Most people fear root canals even though they are a necessary dental procedure that helps keep your teeth clean and help you maintain a beautiful smile. The general perception is that root canals are a pain- very painful and having them done might be one of the most painful experiences of your life. This is generally due to the fact that those who need a root canal are in a lot of pain until they finally go see their dentist.
So, why is that? It’s because the pulp of their tooth (or teeth) has been damaged and that can be quite painful. But before we address that, let’s try to understand what a root canal really is.
The Root Canal Treatment
Root canals are done to repair a tooth that is infected or in the process of decay. In more extreme cases, it is also done to save teeth from rotting. It is performed when the pulp in the tooth is infected or damaged. This causes the tooth to start decaying. In order to prevent this from happening, dentists remove the pulp completely, clean the inside of the tooth and then seal it.
Why is the Pulp Removed?
When the pulp is damaged or infected, it starts to break down. This attracts bacteria which then spreads through the entire pulp chamber. This causes infection and can sometimes lead to what is called an abscessed tooth.
An abscessed tooth is essentially a tooth with a pus-filled pocket at the end of its root. It can be quite painful if you don’t go to the dentist immediately. Additionally, infections caused by the damaged pulp can also lead to swelling which may spread to other parts of the face. In some cases, patients who suffer from an abscess or a tooth infection may be unable to turn their heads at all due to the severity of the pain.
If you don’t go to the dentist immediately then you risk the bacteria taking over and causing bone loss at the tip of your teeth’s root. They may even cause drainage problems where a hole develops on the side of the damaged tooth. This might cause the infection to spread to other teeth, gums, and even your cheeks.
How is the Pulp Damaged?
There are many factors that can lead to the pulp getting damaged. The pulp can face an injury if there are repeated dental procedures, large, inadequate fillings, a crack in the tooth, deep decay which comes from a lack of care, or also because of trauma after a face injury.
Signs That a Root Canal is Needed
You might find yourself needing a root canal if you face severe toothache while chewing, or experiencing prolonged sensitivity when you eat or drink something hot or cold, even after you have removed it. Other signs include the rapid discoloration of a tooth as well as swelling and the frequent development of pimples on or around one particular area on the gums.
Depending on the severity of the damage, you might need one or more than one visit to the dentist to have your tooth treated. If it’s a very serious case, then your dentist might recommend you to a good endodontist.
An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in the treatment and injuries that occur in the dental pulp. So, yes, you will be more than capable hands to have either root canal performed, or in rarer cases, have surgery performed.
But if that’s not the case, it’s a very straightforward process. Your dental specialist will begin by taking an X-ray of your teeth to determine the root canal’s shape and if there’s any kind of infection or damage in the areas around it. Then you’ll be given anesthesia to numb the area. Then they will drill an access hole into the tooth. From there, the pulp, as well as the bacteria causing the infection, will be removed. With these removed, all your dental specialist has to do is clean the inside using special dental files and then scrape and scrub the insides of the root canal. Now, the only thing that remains is filling and sealing the tooth. Most dentists will do so on the same day but if there’s an infection, then your dentist might put some medication to help heal it before sealing your tooth. Once your tooth has been filled and sealed, you are done with the root canal.