Root canal. There we said it. Come back; there’s no need to run from the room.
If there’s one dental procedure that needs a new PR firm, it’s the much-abused root canal. You’d think people would love them — they do save teeth from needing to be extracted, after all. Instead, one mention of the word and people consider which they’d rather have, a root canal or being put on the rack.
But we perform root canals at Implant Dentistry of Florida, so we’d like to clear up some of this unjustified fear of the root canal.
What creates the need for a root canal?
Each of our teeth has one or more roots that anchor the tooth into the jawbone. Nerves and blood vessels run through several tiny channels or “canals” in the root into the pulp at the center of the tooth. If a tooth develops a cavity or is cracked bacteria can penetrate through the enamel on the outer tooth into the pulp, infecting the tooth. If the infection grows, the tooth can develop an abscess. Now the tooth is in a bad way, as the bacteria spreads down into the root canals and possibly into the surrounding gum tissue.
This is probably the root (sorry) of the root canal’s misperceptions. When bacteria get to the nerves inside the tooth, it becomes very painful. Chewing on the tooth can cause very sharp, stabbing pain. And the toothache can be continual. A root canal is meant to alleviate the pain and save the tooth, but people maybe link the prior pain to the solution.
Anyway, at this point, a root canal will be necessary to:
- Minimize pain
- Reduce swelling
- Remove infected and dead tooth tissue
- Get rid of all the bacteria and keep it from spreading
- Salvage healthy tooth structure
- Maintain function of the tooth
The root canal process
In a root canal, once you’re given local anesthesia, Dr. Brown or Dr. Vaughn drills into the infected tooth to access the infected pulp. The infected pulp is removed, along with the tooth root (and all its nerves — the pain cause). Everything is thoroughly disinfected, and then the now-hollow tooth is filled with a rubber-based substance known as gutta percha. A crown or filling closes the hole, and you’re done. Plus, your tooth is saved, often for the remainder of your life!
But what about the vaunted pain of a root canal?
Who knows, maybe some people have watched Marathon Man one too many times and think a root canal is like the Nazi dentist Lawrence Olivier drilling Dustin Hoffman’s teeth and asking, “Is it safe?!” Maybe it’s a leftover from earlier decades when anesthesia wasn’t as good as it is today. Regardless, the truth is that a root canal procedure is no more painful than getting a typical filling. You read that right. The only pain is the slight prick of the initial anesthesia, along with some minor jaw aches afterward due to having your mouth open.
If you have a tooth that’s very painful, it could be infected and need a root canal to save it from extraction. Call us at 321-259-9429 and let’s check it out.