The name is notorious amongst dental patients. If you were to ask most people what a root canal really consists of, or why they’re believed to be so painful, you’re likely to get all sorts of answers. As with many other things in life, people fear what they don’t understand. And so it goes with the “dreaded” root canal. But a bit of knowledge can help alleviate that fear.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal treatment or root canal therapy, more commonly referred to as simply a “root canal”, becomes necessary when the tissues inside your tooth, called the pulp, becomes infected. At this point, the decay has been determined to be too severe to be treated with a mere filling. This deep decay (cavity) most likely began as a chip or crack in the surface of your tooth that came about from improper dental hygiene. The infection in the pulp spreads down through the root canals of your teeth into tissues of your gums and forms an abscess. An abscess is a very severe and painful infection that can lead to issues with your overall health.
Do I Need a Root Canal?
Signs that your tooth may need a root canal treatment 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 Ridgetop Dental dentist of these and any other symptoms you may be having during exams will allow he or she to decide if a root canal is necessary and appropriate for your condition. Some dentists will perform root canals. Others may refer you outside their office to an endodontist. An endodontist is a kind of specialist dentist who treats the insides of your teeth.
Root Canal Procedure
In a root canal treatment, your dentist or endodontist drills down into the crown of your infected tooth and removes the infected pulp from inside the tooth and the canals. Adult teeth no longer require the pulp as they will continue to be nourished by the tissues surrounding the tooth.
Once the pulp has been gently removed, a biocompatible material will be used to fill the now-empty space inside your tooth. In some cases, where tooth decay has compromised the roots and made the tooth unstable, a tiny metal rod, called a plug, may need to be inserted down into the root to hold the tooth in place in your gums.
Restoration is the process in which a crown will be created and placed over the tooth that has been treated with root canal therapy. Ridgetop Dental uses cutting edge CEREC technology to design and create the crown on the same day as your treatment.
Within several days after the crown has been installed, the swelling of the inflamed tissues will go down and the “new” tooth can be used to chew and brushed just like your natural teeth.
Things to Know
Root canals may have been quite painful decades ago but with our modern dental technology and sedation, the procedure is only about as painful as having a filling installed.
It’s a helpful procedure designed to save your natural teeth, relieve dental pain, and allow you to chew properly and smile confidently. As with most ailments, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Brushing twice daily, flossing daily and scheduling regular exams with your Ridgetop Dental dentist are all important steps to avoid needing a root canal, especially if your teeth have recently developed any chips or cracks.
If you do need a root canal, now you know there’s really nothing to fear. To schedule with a dentist at Ridgetop Dental in Reston VA today, call us or schedule an appointment online.