Root canal: The name alone might induce dread in people. Although root canals have a reputation of being unpleasant, painful procedures, you might be surprised to find out they really aren’t that bad. People often fear what they don’t understand. But a little knowledge can go a long way towards alleviating that fear, especially with Durham, NC dentist Dr. Brent L. Blaylock.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal treatment or therapy, commonly referred to as simply a “root canal”, becomes necessary when the tissues inside your tooth -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. The infection in the pulp can spread down through the root canals of your teeth into tissues of your gums forming an abscess- a very severe and painful infection that, if it spreads, 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 them to decide if a root canal is necessary and appropriate for your condition. Some dentists will perform root canals. Others will refer you out to a local endodontist, which 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 bite and chew and can also 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.
Comfortable Root Canal Treatment in Durham, NC
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. Blaylock 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. Blaylock today, call 919.518.9963 or schedule an appointment online.