The dreaded root canal: just uttering those words has the power to intimidate even the mightiest among us. But what is it, really? As with many dental procedures, the fear surrounding it is mostly due to a lack of understanding. Dr. Brent L. Blaylock wants you to understand root canals so you can alleviate that fear.
When the tissues inside your tooth, called pulp, become infected, you need a root canal. Pulp becomes infected as a result of deep decay such as cavities, or a chip or crack in the surface of the tooth. This infection can spread down through the root canals of your teeth into the gums, forming a painful abscess which needs to be treated. This treatment is a root canal treatment.
How Do I Know if I Need a Root Canal?
You’ll know if you need a root canal if your teeth are very sensitive to hot and cold, chewing, or if the gums are inflamed and sensitive around the affected tooth. It’s important to let your dentist know about these symptoms during exams so he or she can determine the most effective and conservative treatment.
Root canal procedures aren’t the only option to treating infection: some dentists may refer you to an endodontist, which is a dental specialist who specializes in treating the insides of the teeth. In other cases, a root canal procedure is the recommended treatment, but Dr. Blaylock will consult with you to determine the most conservative treatment for you.
The Root Canal Procedure
If a root canal is the recommended treatment, your dentist will numb the area and drill down into the crown of the infected tooth. Then, he or she will remove the infected pulp from the inside tooth and root canals beneath the tooth. As adults, we don’t need pulp because the tooth will receive nutrients from surrounding tissues.
Once the infected pulp is removed, a biocompatible material is placed in the space inside the tooth to temporarily fill in until restoration begins. In some cases, where tooth decay has severely affected the root of the tooth, a tiny metal rod is inserted into the root to hold the tooth in place.
Restoration is the process in which a crown is created and placed over the affected tooth. Your dentist will create the crown to match the natural hue of your teeth, and will use it to seal the tooth. Within a few days, the swelling will go down and the tooth can go back to normal use.
Is It Painful?
Many people avoid root canals because they’re afraid that the procedure is painful or they’ve heard horror stories about complications. With modern dental technology, most root canal procedures are no more uncomfortable than having a filling placed, and Dr. Blaylock and his team are skilled and experienced in this procedure.
As always, it’s important to remember to brush twice daily and floss every day to reduce your risk of needing a root canal. If you do experience symptoms and need a root canal, know that the big bad root canal isn’t so scary after all! To schedule with Dr. Blaylock, call 919.518.9963 or request an appointment online.