The Why and How of Root Canal Therapy
There is a common misconception that root canal therapy is scary and painful, but in reality they are not too different from having a routine filling. In fact, they are actually very common. According to the American Association of Endodontists, millions of root canals are treated each year. Rapid advancements in dental technology make root canal therapy, or endodontic therapy, a painless and successful procedure in the majority of cases.
Why Root Canals Happen
Beneath the outer layer of enamel and the inner layer of dentin resides the tooth’s pulp. This pulp is full of nerves, tissue, and blood vessels which help the tooth grow and take root. Unfortunately, pulp can sometimes become infected. Infections can occur for a variety of reasons, such as decay, a chip or crack in the tooth, or a faulty crown. The infection can be very painful and if it goes untreated for too long, the tooth will be lost.
The Root Canal Procedure
The goal of root canal therapy is to remove the pulp and therefore the infection, saving the tooth in the process. You will be given a local anesthetic to help reduce any feelings of pain during the procedure. After the pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned, the tooth is filled and sealed to prevent future infections. Crowns are typically placed on the tooth to keep the tooth from cracking. In many cases, completing your root canal therapy should not take more than two visits depending on the severity of your infection and your availability.
Undergoing dental treatments can be intimidating, but there are many advantages to utilizing root canal therapy to save a tooth. You will be able to chew normally and without pain, your smile will appear natural, and it keeps your other teeth from suffering extra wear and tear. For many patients, with proper care and maintenance, teeth that have undergone root canal therapy can last for the rest of your life.
What To Watch For
If you are experiencing severe tooth pain when chewing or applying pressure, notice discoloration of the tooth, or see swelling, tenderness, and redness around the gums, you should pay a visit to your dentist. These are signs of a root canal and the sooner you can start treatment the better chance you have of eliminating your pain and saving your tooth.