Millions of teeth are saved each year with a root canal. So if your dentist tells you that you need a root canal, you should not be afraid. There are a lot of people in your situation.
A root canal is a treatment to repair and save a badly damaged or infected tooth. The procedure involves removing the damaged area of the tooth (the pulp), which is composed of nerves and blood vessels. Then the dentist carefully cleans and shapes the inside of the root canal, fills and seal the space with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. This material helps to keep the canals free of infection or contamination.
Afterwards you will return for the placement of a crown on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function. After this procedure, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth.
The inflammation of the pulp can have a variety of causes: deep cavity, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or a crack in the tooth. Trauma to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible cracks. If pulp infection is not treated it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.
Signs that you may need a root canal
- Sensitivity to hot or cold ;
- Discoloration (darkening) of the tooth;
- Swelling and tenderness in nearby gums;
- Severe toothache pain upon chewing.
Do not forget that there are cases when symptoms are not present at all.
What should I expect after a root canal?
Keep in mind that you can still get a cavity or gum disease after a root canal treatment. With regular dental visits and proper care at home, the tooth can last as long as other teeth. Most of the time a tooth that has had a root canal treatment can be saved, but there are situations when the tooth must be extracted.
There are cases when the root canal must be done again. This is called retreatment. In this situation gutta-percha is taken out, and the canal is recleaned, reshaped and refilled.
The only alternative to a root canal procedure is having the tooth extracted. The tooth will then be replaced with a bridge, an implant or a partial denture to restore chewing function
Myths about root canals
- A good alternative to root canal is extraction.
The truth is that the very best solution is saving the natural tooth. An artificial tooth can substitute, but nothing can completely replace your original tooth.
- Root canal procedure is very painful
The truth is that nowadays, with modern technologies and anesthetics, root canal treatment is no more uncomfortable than a filling placed.
Root canals are recommended when you have a badly damaged tooth. The only alternative to this procedure is tooth extraction, which is a trauma for your mouth.
It is true that an original tooth can be replaced, but it will never be 100% like the tooth that has been pulled. So you should try to avoid pulling teeth as much as you can.