You’ve probably never heard someone cheer when they find out they need a root canal. Rather, simply hearing your dentist say the phrase “root canal” probably struck fear into your heart.
You may have heard the root canal procedure is painful and serves no purpose. However, this is simply not true. Root canals save an estimated 24 million teeth a year and help keep people healthy across the country. Let’s learn more about what the process of receiving a root canal is like and dispel some of the common myths surrounding them.
What happens during a root canal?
Root canals are needed when the pulp inside a tooth becomes inflamed or infected. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including decay or an injury to the tooth. You may notice a sensitivity to extreme temperatures or pain associated with use of the tooth. There may also be no symptoms at all. A root canal will help save and preserve your natural tooth while removing the inflammation or infection.
During the root canal procedure, you will receive local anesthesia to eliminate pain. These injections make the procedure more comfortable and ensure you are numb and unable to feel any potential pain. Once you are sufficiently numbed, the dentist drills a small hole into your tooth to gain access to the diseased or dead pulp.
Your dentist will use a tool to clean out the root canals and remove the pulp that is causing your dental issues. Once the tooth is cleaned, the canals are shaped and filled with a sealant called gutta-percha. When this is done, the hole the dentist drilled is filled and you are finished. Once your tooth has healed, you can pursue getting a crown to restore the integrity of your tooth.
After a root canal, there are several steps you should take to eliminate any potential pain:
- Take pain medication if prescribed. If not, over-the-counter medicines can also help
- Keep up with brushing and flossing to ensure your teeth stay healthy
- If prescribed antibiotics, take your medication as directed to eliminate any infection
- Wait until any numbness wears off to eat, otherwise you may bite your cheek or tongue
- Do not chew with the healing tooth until a crown is used to restore it
Myths surrounding root canals
Before receiving a root canal, you may have some misconceptions about the procedure or its efficacy. Some of these myths are:
Root canals are painful!
Your dentist should never proceed with a root canal if you are in pain. You will receive numbing injections prior to your root canal so you will not feel the procedure. Root canal pain should only be any soreness or tenderness you may have after the procedure due to holding your mouth open for so long.
In reality, root canals are supposed to relieve pain you may feel. A broken tooth may have exposed nerves that can be incredibly painful, and a root canal makes it so you no longer feel the pain from that tooth.
If you are concerned with your level of pain following the procedure, you can contact your dentist who may prescribe you a stronger painkiller or check the tooth to make sure it is healing properly.
What’s the point of getting a root canal when they don’t last?
It is a common misconception that root canals and crowns do not last, making it a costly waste of time. On the contrary, a root canal is the most cost-effective option for healing your tooth while preserving it.
If you do not get a root canal when it is needed, you are putting yourself at risk for a worsening infection and potential loss of your tooth.
Root canals are needed when there is an abscess, or infection, in your tooth. This infection can be deadly if it spreads. Even if it is not that severe, it can still cause the bone to degrade, leading to loss of the tooth. Getting a dental implant is more expensive than a root canal and crown, and keeping your natural tooth is significantly better for your mouth than a false tooth.
A root canal is a fairly routine procedure and shouldn’t be feared. If it’s time for you to have a root canal, contact us at Excel Dental.
Drs. Davis and Matthews can help you conquer your fear of a root canal while providing top-tier dental care.