POP CULTURE TENDS to give root canal therapy a bad name. We often hear people saying things like “I’d rather have a root canal!” to emphasize the unpleasantness of a task ahead of them. All of that is based on an earlier era of dentistry. It encourages unnecessary dental anxiety and doesn’t at all resemble the modern experience of root canal treatment at an endodontic practice. We’re here to set the record straight.
Root Canal Therapy Saves Teeth
The popular idea of root canal treatment is that it is horribly painful, but modern root canal therapy doesn’t cause pain, it eliminates it! Beyond that, it saves the affected tooth from dangerous infection so that it doesn’t have to be extracted.
Everyone’s goal when it comes to dental care is to always be able to keep their teeth healthy enough that they never need root canal therapy, but infection and cavities happen to the best of us. Whether through a genetic vulnerability to tooth decay, an injury, or insufficient brushing and flossing, sometimes a cavity penetrates through the enamel and dentin into the pulp chamber, where bacteria infects and inflames the pulp.
An infected tooth may present no symptoms at all or may lead to temperature sensitivity or even terrible dental pain. In time, however, pain may vanish as the infection kills the tooth. The bacteria can spread down into the gum tissue and jaw bone through the opening at the root tip. This leads to terribly painful dental abscesses that can even be life-threatening if the bacteria reaches the blood stream.
The Root Canal Treatment Process
What root canal therapy does is get rid of the infected and necrotic pulp tissue while preserving the structure of the tooth, all while the patient is under anesthesia. The endodontist first makes an opening at the top of the tooth to access the root canals. The next step is to carefully remove the diseased pulp and debris, then reshape the root canals and disinfect the pulp spaces.
In order to keep any bacteria from contaminating the root canals, the endodontist seals them off with a rubber-like filling material that is moldable when heated or compacted but solidifies at body temperature. This material is excellent for making custom seals so the root canals don’t become contaminated.
The Post-Root Canal Therapy Tooth
After the procedure, the oral tissues around the tooth can start to heal. We place a temporary restoration for the healing period, but eventually that will be replaced with the permanent filling or crown. At that point, you’ll be able to keep using the tooth! It’s a much better option than false teeth or implants. There are no artificial substitutes that do a better job than our natural teeth.
Keeping Smiles Healthy Down to the Roots!
Prevention is always preferable to treatment, but when root canal treatment is necessary, don’t let the false pop culture idea of what root canal therapy is like scare you away. Modern root canal treatment is a wonderful, pain-free procedure that saves more than fifteen million teeth a year across the US, and patient comfort is one of our highest priorities.