Root Canals: Facts Alleviate Fears

  • Jul 19 2018

Are root canals still as painful as I’ve always heard that they are?

We all know how important it is to practice good dental hygiene and schedule our regular checkups and cleanings. In the past, a trip to the dentist would often be accompanied by a feeling of dread or fear, but, for the vast majority of us, that is no longer the case. Modern techniques have made most procedures painless, and the resulting benefits of a beautiful smile and healthy teeth and gums are hard to even calculate. That said, when deep pain in a tooth brings the thought of the possible need for a root canal, the initial reaction is often fear.   

Root canals are a form of endodontic treatment, “endo” coming from the Greek meaning “inside” and “odont” means “tooth.” When the inside of the tooth, the pulp, which contains nerve tissue and blood vessels, becomes infected because of decay or bacteria entering due to injury, a root canal procedure is necessary to stop the spread of infection and prevent the need for extraction. Historically, fear would have been the understandable response because some of the earlier attempts involved actually cauterizing the inside of the tooth, which had to have been extremely painful. After that, different materials were used to fill the cavity that was created when the diseased pulp was removed, but the methods, as well as the results, were rarely very effective and were undoubtedly always painful.

Root Canal Procedures Have Come a Long Way

Deep decay and infections that can lead to abscesses are just as uncomfortable and serious as they were centuries ago, but treatment options have vastly improved. It is unlikely that anyone will ever look forward to having a root canal procedure performed, but what most people report, today, is that the experience is similar to having a cavity filled.

A root canal procedure may consist of one or two visits to your dentist or orthodontist. X-rays will be used to determine the scope of the problem and, typically, only a local anesthetic will be required. An opening in the enamel will be made so that the infected pulp and tissue can be removed and the area cleaned. The cavity is then filled and sealed with gutta percha, which is a malleable, biocompatible material that comes from trees found in South America, the South Pacific and Malaysia. The enamel will then be sealed with a filling or, if necessary, a crown.

The alternative to having a root canal is to have the tooth pulled. This would then be followed up with an implant or some form of denture. This may be deemed advisable if the extent of the damage is severe but preserving the natural tooth is always the best choice, if at all possible.

The best option, of course, is to prevent the need for a root canal or extraction. Practicing good, consistent oral hygiene, including those regular visits to the dentist, can go a long way in preventing this and other types of infection.

If you are experiencing any sort of pain or discomfort that may involve infection or have questions about any of our services, whether dentistry or aesthetics, Forest Hills Dentistry is dedicated to delivering the highest quality services possible. We offer the latest and most current information and services to our patients with a new state-of-the-art facility in Forest Hills, Queens. Patient comfort, individualized care and complete satisfaction are our priority.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, you are invited to use our online form by clicking here.

Categories: Root Canal