Root canals have earned a bad reputation. This procedure has become the butt of jokes on TV shows and in games of “Would You Rather”. It has also become the subject of an unusual amount of anxiety because patients expect the procedure to be painful, despite recent advancements that ensure this isn’t the case. But from a health perspective, root canals are heroic: they are a life-saving procedure for your tooth!
Each of your teeth has a hollow space inside it, which includes a pulp chamber and root canals. These interior chambers are filled with tooth pulp, which consists of connective tissues, nerves and blood vessels that nourished your tooth from the inside during development. Your dentist will perform a root canal procedure when the pulp becomes compromised.
Situations that can lead to the need for treatment include deep decay (i.e. a really bad cavity), a cracked tooth and repeated dental procedures. It is important to note that even an injured tooth that has no outward signs of damage can still have a damaged pulp. The root canal procedure consists of removing the infected pulp and then cleaning and resealing the pulp chamber.
Modern advancements in root canal procedures and anesthesia have made the root canal’s painful reputation a thing of the past. The root canal procedure is performed under a local anesthetic, meaning you won’t be able to feel it.
Left untreated, damage or infection in the root canal could mean the loss of a tooth, not to mention pain and swelling in the meantime. But an infected tooth that has been treated with a root canal procedure should last a lifetime.
If you’ve been told you need a root canal treatment, you may have also heard the term “endodontist”. An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in treating the interior structures of your teeth and thus can be thought of as a root canal specialist. If your dentist has determined you need a root canal, he or she may refer you to an endodontist for the procedure.
No matter what you’ve heard about root canals in the past, we know you’d probably prefer getting this routine procedure to enduring a toothache and possibly having your tooth removed. There’s no reason to fear root canal treatment!
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