What is a Root Canal?

Root canal: The name of the procedure alone induces dread in some people. While root canals have a reputation of being unpleasant, painful to endure, you might be surprised to find out they’re not as bad as you think. As with many things, people tend to fear what is unknown or what they don’t understand. But a little knowledge can go a long way towards alleviating those fears so that people can get the help they may need from their dentist. Smile Dental Group of East Lancaster CA wants to shine some light on the big, bad root canal.

What is a Root Canal?

A root canal treatment or therapy is commonly referred to as simply a “root canal” by most people. This treatment becomes necessary when the tissues inside your tooth — the pulp — become infected. This infection is usually the result of deep decay (cavities) or a chip or crack in the surface of your tooth (the enamel). This can endanger your overall health if the infection spreads all the way down through the root canals of your teeth into tissues of your gums and forms an abscess — a very severe and painful kind of infection.

When Do I Need a Root Canal?

A sensitivity to hot and cold or to touch and pain while chewing can be signs of an infection and may indicate the need for a root canal. Inflamed and sensitive gums can also hint at a potential problem. Letting your dentist know about these and any other symptoms you may be having during exams will allow he or she to decide if an infection is present and a root canal is needed. Some dentists perform their own root canals but others will refer you to an endodontist which is a dental specialist who exclusively treats the insides of your teeth.

The Root Canal Procedure

Your dentist will begin by thoroughly numbing the area to be treated. Then, your dentist or endodontist drills down into the crown of your infected tooth to draw out the infected pulp from inside the tooth and the root canals. As adults, our teeth no longer require the pulp as they can continue to be nourished by the surrounding bone and gum tissues.

Once the pulp has been removed, your dentist will insert a biocompatible material to temporarily fill the now-empty space inside your tooth until restoration can begin. In some cases, where the roots of the tooth have been compromised and the tooth has become unstable, a tiny metal rod may need to be inserted down into the root to hold the tooth in place in your gums.

Restoration is the technical name for the process when a crown is created and placed over your compromised tooth, effectively restoring its natural appearance and function. Your dentist or specialist creates the crown, matching it to the natural hue of your teeth, “caps” the treated tooth with it. Within several days, the swelling goes down around the procedure site and the “new” tooth can be used to chew and be brushed just like your natural teeth.

Why The Bad Reputation?

Many people will try to avoid root canals due to the belief that the treatment will be painful or because they may have heard “horror stories” of complications that can be caused by the procedure. The rumors about pain may hail from the time before modern dental technology and sedation. Today the procedure is only about as painful as having a filling placed. The “horror stories” claim that root canal therapy can make you susceptible to illnesses and disease. However, these rumors stem from a time before the causes of diseases and their transmission was fully understood and proper sterilization was not always followed.

Comfortable Root Canal Treatment in East Lancaster CA

So the big, bad root canal is actually not so scary now that you’ve gotten to know it a little better. Instead, it’s meant to be a helpful procedure to alleviate pain and save your natural teeth, to allow you to chew properly and smile confidently again. As with most illnesses, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure as the old saying goes. Brushing twice daily and flossing every day can help you avoid tooth decay that leads to the need for root canals. Scheduling regular exams with your Smile Dental Group — especially if your teeth have recently developed any chips or cracks — is also crucial. But, now, if you do need a root canal, you know there’s nothing to fear. To schedule with Smile Dental Group today, call 661.302.4416 or schedule an appointment online.