Your dentist says you need a root canal, and your first thought probably isn’t “Yay! My tooth will be saved!” Maybe you’re feeling nervousness, anxiety, or outright dread. Somehow, over time, this rather innocuous — and often quite helpful — dental procedure has acquired a terrible reputation.
But rest assured, dentists are not all in on some conspiracy to torture their patients with root canals. In fact, we aren’t even sure why the procedure has such a bad name in the first place. Because most patients, once they actually experience one, realize that root canals aren’t so awful after all.
It’s entirely possible that back in the dentistry dark ages, root canals (and likely most dental therapies) were miserable to endure. But times, materials, and techniques have changed.
At Aberdeen Smiles, we use the most cutting-edge equipment and techniques to ensure your root canal is efficient and comfortable. Our staff is nurturing, and we have comfort options including massaging exam chairs and dental sedation to make your experience even more pleasant. To book an appointment at our Aberdeen, SD office, call 605-277-9049.
What Is a Root Canal?
The short answer is that a root canal is a procedure that saves a tooth that is dead or dying. If the pulp inside your tooth chamber becomes infected (which can occur due to a bad cavity or injury to the area), it must be removed before you lose the tooth altogether or the infection spreads. How will you know you have an infection of the pulp, or abscess? Here are a few of the indicators:
- Severe tooth pain
- Sensitivity to heat or cold
- Your tooth has become dark or discolored
- Swollen, tender gums
- A pimple on the gum
Of course, if the pulp and nerves inside the tooth are already “dead,” you may not feel any pain at all but still require a root canal. This is yet another reason to visit Aberdeen Smiles for regular checkups.
The procedure is quite simple. The area to be treated will be numbed with local anesthesia so you won’t feel a thing. At Aberdeen Smiles, we also offer nitrous oxide sedation in case you need a little extra help staying calm and comfortable. Once you are numb and ready to go, Dr. Drake will drill a small hole in the tooth, through which she will remove all of the the diseased pulp. Once the inner cavity of the tooth is clean and dry, it will be filled with an inert, artificial material like gutta-percha. The hole will be sealed up with a filling until we have your dental crown ready to be attached. At Aberdeen Smiles, we can have your crown available in as little as six days.
It is almost always preferable to save your existing tooth with a root canal, rather than having the tooth pulled and replaced. An artificial tooth will be more expensive, more invasive to insert, and just won’t hold a candle to the real thing.
Root Canal Myths
But what about all of those root canal horror stories? Let’s put a few of those to rest for good.
- Root canals are painful: this is probably the most persistent and widely held misconception about the procedure. The truth is that most patients report a root canal is no more uncomfortable than getting a routine filling.
- Root canals make you sick: the false idea that root canals cause disease — even cancer! — have been around a while, but have gained traction thanks to the internet. There is simply no evidence to support these claims. They are especially dangerous because they could convince someone to ignore an abscessed tooth, which will make a person sick if the infection spreads.
- A tooth with a root canal will have to be replaced anyway: root canals save teeth, and there is no reason to believe a tooth with a root canal won’t last the rest of your life.
Now, we can’t promise you’ll be clamoring to return for more root canals after you experience one, but we can assure you that it will not be an entirely unpleasant experience. It certainly won’t be as bad as you’ve probably been led to believe.
If you have an abscessed tooth, you are probably hurting due to that. A root canal will remove those nerves and eliminate the pain.