If hearing the words ‘root canal’ scares you as much as Mike Myers on Halloween, you’re not alone. Most people associate the procedure with torture and pain their point of reference made through sitcom plotlines or hearing horror stories from their grandparents. Let us set your mind at ease. According to the American Association of Endodontists, extreme pain is just one of the myths associated with root canals.
This myth or stereotype might have been true in the olden days but just like all medical procedures, root canals, also known as endodontic therapy, have made tremendous advances. Improved pain management and anesthetics can make the procedure comparable to getting a filling. In fact, if you have an infected tooth and avoid treatment you’re likely to experience more pain in the long run if you develop an abscess an infection that may spread to other areas of the body.
What is a root canal?
So now that you know a root canal isn’t a form of medieval torture, let’s find out what it actually is. A root canal is the removal of the inflamed or infected pulp of a tooth. The pulp is living tissue inside the root of a tooth, the soft tissue below the gumline that provides nutrients to the tooth— much like the root of a tree. If the pulp is infected, a root canal is the best option to treat and save the tooth. The pulp is cleaned out removing harmful bacteria, reshaped and then filled. A restoration with a crown or other material restores the tooth to full function.
Isn’t tooth extraction easier than a root canal? Why not just pull the infected tooth?
It may seem easier to just extract a tooth and replace it, but the goal is to save the tooth! Removing a tooth affects the surrounding tissues, and isn’t ideal. If you had an injury to another part of the body, removing it would definitely be a last resort! This should be the case with teeth as well. If the infected pulp is not treated in time it dies and then tooth removal is necessary.
What are the benefits to root canal therapy?
According to the American Association of Endodontists, “Endodontic treatment helps you maintain your natural smile, continue eating the foods you love and limits the need for ongoing dental work. With proper care, most teeth that have had root canal treatment can last a lifetime.”
How do I know if I need a root canal?
You might need treatment if:
You have tooth or gum pain, temperature sensitivity, tenderness in lymph nodes and gum tissues and if you have a tooth with severe decay or have experienced an injury or trauma to the tooth.
Did you know?
Fun facts that you won’t be quizzed on later:
A root canal is only one treatment under the umbrella of dental care referred to as Endodontics, the treatment of the inside of the tooth.
“Endo” is the Greek word for “inside” and “odont” means tooth.
How do I get more information?
For extra credit you can study the ins and outs of the procedure here: root canal. Still have questions? Like to book an appointment? Simply contact our office. For further information on root canals and Endodontic therapy you can also visit: the American Association of Endodontists.