Mention the term “root canal” to someone and watch their reaction. It’s not good, right? Root canals actually are no more painful than getting a filling for a cavity. In fact, the real pain comes from the toothache root canals can relieve.
What Is A Root Canal?
Root canals are a restorative dentistry treatment that gets rid of toothaches and saves teeth. The bacteria behind cavities can sometimes break through your tooth enamel and dentin. When this happens, they reach the dental pulp. This is where all of the nerve endings and blood vessels for your tooth are found. The pulp extends down the roots of your teeth. The passageway in the root is called a canal.
When bacteria get into the pulp, they infect it. Because of those nerve endings there, the infection usually becomes quite painful. The infection can spread down those canals. In order to save the tooth and get rid of the pain, you need to get rid of the infection. Sometimes, the pulp gets inflamed from an injury to your tooth. There’s no infection, but the damage feels like one. You’ll need to have the inflamed pulp removed to save the tooth. A root canal procedure can do both.
Here’s what happens in a root canal procedure. First, you’re given a local anesthetic. Then Dr. Cavendish will make a small opening in your tooth so he can reach the pulp. Using a special tool, he’ll gently remove the infected pulp and make sure the bacteria aren’t hiding in the canals. Gutta-percha (an inert rubber-like material) is used to replace the pulp. Finally, you’ll get a dental crown to cover the tooth and seal up the opening.
Aren’t Root Canals Painful?
No! This is a huge and persistent myth in dentistry. A long time ago, root canals may have been painful. But thanks to modern techniques and anesthesia, your root canal will most likely be pain-free. Dr. Cavendish also has the training and experience needed to make sure your root canal will be safe. Since infected dental pulp can hurt a lot, the most painful thing about a root canal is not getting one.
How To Avoid A Root Canal
Although root canals are safe and usually painless, that doesn’t mean you want one. Prevention is the key to good dental health. Here are several things you can to do avoid infections and needing root canals.
- Take care of cavities when they are still small. The infection hits when bacteria get into the pulp. How does that happen? Often, it’s when a cavity goes untreated for too long. Bacteria corrode your enamel, creating a hole called a cavity. If that cavity gets too deep, it will break through into your dental pulp. That’s when the bacteria spread.
The best way to avoid this is to treat cavities while they are small. Of course, that means not skipping out on getting a filling, inlay, or onlay. But it also means early detection. At our Phoenix, AZ dental office, your exam will include the DIAGNOdent system. It uses a painless, low-power laser to identify cavities while they’re too small to see.
- Brush and floss regularly. The bacteria behind infections requiring a root canal feed off tiny particles of food and drink left behind in your mouth. The more you neglect oral hygiene, the more bacteria will multiply. That means increasing your chances of cavities, periodontal disease, and needing root canals. If you continue to brush and floss regularly, you can help get rid of those food particles. That keeps bacteria to a minimum, helping you avoid root canals.
- Visit us immediately after getting an injury to your mouth. Bacteria aren’t the only way to have problems inside your teeth. If you’ve had a bad accident or injury to the mouth, that can damage the pulp inside a tooth. The sooner we can see if there’s damage there, the better off you’ll be. Even if you don’t have visible damage to a tooth, call to make an appointment if you had an injury. Our digital X-rays can check on the health of your dental pulp.
- Visit our North Phoenix, AZ dental office for regular dental cleanings and exams. Even if you brush and floss like you should, you just don’t have the training and special tools needed to keep your teeth professionally clean. By visiting our dental practice every six months, you can help your mouth stay clean and healthy. When you do that, you’re decreasing your chances of needing root canals.
By taking care of your teeth, you can help avoid root canals. If you do need one, then you know you’ll get some of the best care in the North Phoenix, AZ area. Call us at 602-842-6504 for your next appointment.