Root canal. There we said it. Wait, don’t run from the room screaming.
If there is a dental procedure that needs to hire a high-powered New York PR firm, it’s the much-feared root canal. People think this procedure, which is critical to save a tooth from being extracted, is something left over from the Dark Ages, right up there with being put on the rack and public flogging.
But Dr. Brown and our team want to clear up these misperceptions of the root canal. We perform our own root canals at Implant Dentistry of Florida, and we love the fact that these procedures enable us to take a badly decayed tooth and keep it from needing extraction through a root canal.
What happens leading up to a root canal?
Every tooth 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. Sometimes, a cavity or fracture allows bacteria to 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.
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
This is where people get it wrong. When the interior of a tooth becomes infected, all of the sudden nerves are exposed. That causes serious pain. This is where people get confused, lumping this extreme tooth pain in with the root canal procedure. Actually, the root canal is done to remove the cause of the pain!
Here’s what we do to get rid of the pain and save your tooth.
In a root canal, once you’re given local anesthesia, Dr. Brown drills into the infected tooth to access the infected pulp. He then diligently removes all the infected pulp, 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!
How much does a root canal hurt?
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?!” The truth is that a root canal procedure is no more painful than getting a typical filling. You read that right. Really the only pain is the slight prick of the initial anesthesia, along with some minor jaw aches afterwards due to having your mouth open. Remember, the root canal removes the nerves so the tooth actually have no sensation moving forward.
If you’re having some tooth pain, decay could have entered one of your teeth. Call us at Implant Dentistry of Florida, (321) 372-7700, and let’s check out your tooth.