Root canal: Just the name of the procedure alone can induce dread in people. However, although root canals have a reputation of being unpleasant, painful procedures, you might be surprised to find out they’re not as bad as you’ve been led to believe. As with many things, people tend to fear what they don’t understand. A bit of truth can go a long way towards alleviating that fear. Williamsburg, VA dentist Dr. Stacey Sparkman Hall wants you to be informed and feel comfortable with any and all dental procedures you may need. Read on to learn more about the unjustly maligned root canal.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal treatment or therapy, commonly referred to as simply a “root canal”, becomes necessary when the soft tissues inside your tooth, called the pulp, become infected. This usually happens as the result of deep decay (cavities) or a chip or crack in the surface of your tooth allowing bacteria inside. The infection in the pulp can spread down through the root canals of your teeth into tissues of your gums forming an abscess which is a very severe and painful infection that can be dangerous to your overall health.
When Do I Need a Root Canal?
Signs that a root canal may be necessary are sensitivity of the tooth to hot and cold, sensitivity to touch or while chewing, and inflamed and sensitive gums around the tooth. Informing your dentist of these and any other symptoms you may be having during exams will allow he or she to decide if a root canal is necessary and appropriate for your condition. Some dentists will perform root canals. Others will refer you to an endodontist. An endodontist is a dental specialist who specializes in treating the insides of your teeth.
The Root Canal Procedure
First, your dentist will thoroughly numb the area to be treated. Then, your dentist or endodontist drills down into the crown of your infected tooth and removes the infected pulp from inside the tooth and the root canals. As adults, our teeth no longer require the pulp as it will continue to be nourished by the surrounding tissues.
Once the pulp has been removed, a biocompatible material will be used to temporarily fill the now-empty space inside your tooth until restoration can begin. In some cases, where tooth decay has compromised one of the roots and made the tooth 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 process whereby a crown will be created and placed over your compromised tooth. Your dentist or specialist will create the crown, matching it to the natural hue of your teeth, and will use it to seal up the tooth. Within several days, the swelling of the inflamed tissues will go down and the “new” tooth can be used to chew and be cleaned just like your natural teeth.
Why The Bad Reputation?
Many people avoid root canals due to the belief that the procedure will be painful or because they may have heard “horror stories” of complications from the procedure. Root canals may have been painful decades ago but with our modern technology and anesthetics, the procedure is only about as painful as having a filling placed. As far as the “horror stories” there was a myth propagated by poor research about a hundred years ago that root canal treatment led to you being susceptible to illnesses and disease. However, this was before the causes of these diseases and their transmission was fully understood.
Treatment for Root Canal in Williamsburg, VA
So the big, bad root canal is actually not so scary. Instead it’s a helpful procedure designed to alleviate pain and save your natural teeth, allowing you to chew properly and smile confidently. As with most illnesses, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Brushing twice daily, flossing daily and scheduling regular exams with Dr. Hall are all important steps to avoid needing a root canal, especially if your teeth have recently developed any chips or cracks. But if you do need a root canal, now you know there’s nothing to fear. To schedule with Dr. Hall today, call 757.216.9873 or schedule an appointment online.