Root canal: Just hearing the name of this procedure brings up feelings of dread in some people. “I need to have a root canal done.” Someone complains and you answer: “Oh. That’s too bad.” But, if you were to ask people what a root canal really consists of or why people are so leary of them, you’re likely to get all sorts of answers. The basic truth of people is that we fear what we don’t understand. However, a little knowledge can go a long way toward alleviating that fear. So why don’t we take a few minutes to learn about the dreaded root canal.
What is a Root Canal?
When most people say “root canal” they are talking about the procedure root canal therapy. This procedure is needed when the tissue inside your tooth, the pulp, becomes infected. This infection can happen as the result of cavities (deep decay in your tooth enamel) or a chip or crack. This infection can spread down the pulp and into the root canals of your teeth (hence the name of the procedure) where the tooth is embedded in your gums. This can cause an abscess, a very severe and painful infection, to form. Abscesses can be dangerous to your overall health as their infection can spread to other parts of your body including the heart and brain.
Do I Need A Root Canal?
Common signs that root canals are infected include sensitivity of the tooth to hot and cold, sensitivity to touch or while chewing, and inflamed and sensitive gums around your tooth. If you have any of these symptoms, schedule an exam with your dentist. He or she will decide if a root canal is necessary for your condition or not. Dr. James Lassiter of Lassiter Family Dentistry in Kingsland GA performs his own root canal treatments but may refer you to an outside endodontist for very severe cases. An endodontist is a specialist dentist who specializes in treating the insides of your teeth.
The Root Canal Procedure
A root canal treatment begins with your dentist or endodontist drilling a tiny hole into the crown of your infected tooth to remove the infected pulp from through. As our teeth no longer require the pulp as adults, they will continue to be nourished by the surrounding tissues. After the pulp has been removed, your dentist will fill the space using a biocompatible material to temporarily seal the tooth until restoration can begin. In cases where tooth decay has compromised one of the roots and made the tooth unstable, a tiny metal rod may need to be embedded in your gums to hold the tooth in place in your gums.
In the final stage of the process, restoration, a crown is created and placed over your damaged tooth. Your dentist or endodontist crafts the crown, matching it to the natural hue of your teeth, and caps the tooth, sealing up the inside. After only a few days, the swelling of the inflamed tissues will go down and the “new” tooth can be used just like your natural teeth.
When to See A Dentist
So maybe now the root canal isn’t so ominous now that you know a little more about it. Instead you can see root canal therapy for what it really is: a helpful procedure designed to alleviate pain and save your natural teeth, allowing you to chew properly and smile confidently. As with most conditions an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Brushing twice daily, flossing daily and scheduling regular exams with Dr. James Lassiter are all important steps to avoid needing a root canal, especially if your teeth have recently developed any chips or cracks. But if you do need a root canal, now you know it’s nothing to be worried about. To schedule with Dr. Lassiter today, call 912-208-2565 or schedule an appointment online.