Root canal: Just hearing the name of the procedure gives some people the chills. Although root canals are reputed to be unpleasant, painful procedures, you might be surprised to find out they’re not as bad as you think. People often fear what they don’t understand and root canals are no different. But a little knowledge can go a long way towards demystifying the procedure and East Lancaster, CA dental practice Smile Dental Group would like to help.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal treatment, often called simply a “root canal,” is necessary when the soft tissues inside your tooth, called the pulp, become infected. This is usually caused by deep decay (cavities) or through a chip or crack in the enamel of your tooth. This infection in the pulp can spread down through the root canals of your teeth into your gums forming an abscess — a very severe and painful infection that can spread to your heart or brain, endangering your life.
When Do I Need a Root Canal?
There are usually signs that a root canal may be necessary. These include sensitivity of the teeth to hot and cold, sensitivity to touch or while chewing, and inflamed and sensitive gums around the tooth. You should schedule with your dentist as soon as possible if you experience any of these symptoms. He or she will determine if a root canal is necessary and appropriate for your condition. Some dentists will perform root canals while others will refer you to an endodontist — a dental specialist who treats the insides of your teeth.
The Root Canal Procedure
To start, you tooth cannot be actively infected. Your dentist may have to treat the infection with antibiotics for a week or two prior to your root canal to cure the infection. When you are able to have the surgery, your dentist will thoroughly numb the area surrounding the infected tooth. Then, he or she will drill down into the crown of your infected tooth and draw out the infected pulp from inside the tooth and the root canals. As adults, the pulp can be removed because our teeth no longer require it to live as they can be nourished by the surrounding tissues.
Once the pulp has been removed, a biocompatible material temporarily fills the space inside your tooth until restoration can begin. If the structure of the tooth has compromised, a tiny metal rod may need to be fitted into the root to anchor the tooth in place in your gums.
Restoration is the process in which a crown — a prosthetic tooth surface — will be created and placed over your compromised tooth. Your dentist or specialist will craft the crown using digitl technology, matching it to the natural hue of your teeth, and will use it to seal up the tooth. In a few days, the swelling of the inflamed tissues will abate and the “new” tooth can be used to bite and chew and can be brushed and flossed just like your natural teeth.
Why The Bad Reputation?
Many people avoid having root canals due to rumors that the procedure will be painful or out of fear of complications from the procedure. Root canal treatments may have been painful decades ago but with modern dental technology and anesthetics, the procedure is only about as painful as having a filling placed. And stories about complications are mostly very old stories about infections spreading back during a time before the spread of illnesses was not fully understood. Today’s dentists will not operate on an actively infected tooth.
Comfortable Root Canal Treatment in East Lancaster, CA
So now that root canals are not so mysterious anymore, maybe you can recognize them as a helpful procedure designed to alleviate pain and save your natural teeth so you can chew properly and smile confidently. As with most illnesses, root infections are easier to prevent than cure. Brushing twice daily, flossing daily and attending regular exams with your Smile Dental Group dentist are all important steps to avoid needing a root canal, especially if your teeth have recently developed any chips or cracks. To schedule a consultation with your Smile Dental Group dentist today, call (661) 947-9990 or schedule online.