You have no doubt heard of a root canal.
Those two words induce a whole world of presumed pain for some people, even if they’re not entirely sure what a “root canal” is. Years of misbelief and misinformation have perpetuated the idea that, whatever a root canal may be, it can’t be good. However, the fear behind this misconception is fairly unfounded, especially since the information behind a “root canal” may not be widely known to those who fear it.
Getting to the Root
Let’s start with the literal “root canal,” which is just a canal within your tooth. Your teeth are rooted to your gums, which also means they’re connected to the greater nervous system in your body. So if you have intense pain in a tooth, it could affect your whole body. It can seem small and less important than some dental issues, but this sort of neglect is what leads to pain in the first place. It’s always important to remember, that as strong as your teeth are, they have nerves that are attached to the rest of your body. If you feel any sort of pain in a tooth, you should seek your dentist and get it checked out.
Our teeth see a lot of action, from food, to drinks, to any other number of things. Which is why it’s so important to take care of our teeth, as we may not even realize what issues we have with them until our dentist tells us. Your tooth can become damaged in a variety of ways, and if nothing is done about it, it can lead to serious decay.
On the Inside
The inside of your tooth is comprised of pulp, which contains nerves and connective tissue. If the inside of your tooth gets dirty and infected, it could result in inflammation, as well as a damaged and dying pulp chamber. From here, your tooth will be hurting and you’ll be feeling pain, which will only get worse over time.
This is where the root canal therapy comes in. Also known as endodontic therapy (the word “endodontic” coming from the specific study of dental pulp), the procedure is designed to remove the dead matter in your tooth, clear out the tooth entire, heal it, then cap it off with fillings and a new crown.
Contrary to what you may believe, this procedure provides minimum pain, as the tooth is given anesthesia so that you won’t feel a thing while they’re working on it. Not only that, but if you need root canal therapy, and don’t want to do it because of the fear of pain, you’ll be doing yourself a major disservice. If the affected tooth is already in pain, it will only get worse over time, and that could result in a lost tooth. The important thing to remember about root canal therapy is that the entire goal is to save your tooth, not cause you to lose it.
So what’s in a root canal procedure? Well, to start things off, the tooth needs to be given anesthesia to stay numb during the actual therapy. If your tooth and surrounding tissues are not numb, the procedure cannot go forward. Once this is done, a thin sheet will be placed around the tooth. This thin sheet separates the tooth from the rest of the mouth and gives the doctor a sterile environment to work in, ensuring nothing comes between them and the tooth.
A hole is then drilled into the tooth, which allows access to the actual root canal. From here, the most important part commences: the removal of dead matter. The dead or dying pulp–along with everything that comes with it–is removed, and the canal is disinfected. From this point forward, the cleaned out tooth can no longer feel pain. Afterward, the tooth is washed and rinsed thoroughly, until any and all debris is clear.
From here, the tooth canal is sealed with special thermoplastic material, such as gutta-percha. This material fits snugly within the canal, using its heat properties to stick and stay to the tooth’s inner surface. Filling material will be used to seal the tooth and, if the material being used is permanent, will replace missing tooth structure.
A crown can also be used after the tooth has been filled and sealed. The crown will serve to seal the tooth entirely and generally restore it to a regular appearance. The combined sealing from filler, along with a new crown (if needed), ensure your tooth is safe from being reinfected.
If you think you might need root canal therapy, or just want to make sure your teeth are in good shape, come to Dr. Patty’s Dental Boutique. Located in Ft. Lauderdale, we provide quality service and personalized care, with a professional and attentive staff, and a relaxing atmosphere unlike any you’ve experienced. Give us a call at 954-914-7407 to schedule your complimentary consultation today.