Root canals have a bad reputation. Just the mere mention of the treatment can produce a cringing expression to the listener as if he or she is on the dentist chair, mouth wide open and getting the 21st century version torture method of the Spanish inquisition.
Well, the notion of root canal as a tormenting procedure is over. In the past 10 years, technologies and innovations, as well as anesthetics in dental care, have allowed for the procedure to evolve to be a more tolerable, relieving experience.
Why the Bad Reputation?
Root canals are often associated with a lot of pain. Unfortunately, it is not the root canal itself that causes the pain. It is the inflammation and/or infection in and around the tooth that requires the tooth to need the root canal in the first place. Dental pain should not be minimized. We describe it to patients comparing a jammed finger. If you shut your finger in a door, the pain will be there, but thankfully the tissues around your finger allow it to swell. Unfortunately with a tooth rooted in bone, there is nowhere for the swelling to go so the pain is much worse.
Why choose a root canal over removal?
The reason for getting a root canal treatment is removing infection and preserving the tooth. What your body has made is better than any man made device we can place. The longer we can maintain a natural tooth, the better. And while this cannot be done in every case, it is up to you and discussion with your dentist to decide.
So this root canal…
The good news is, because of advancement in dental and oral care technology including anesthetics applied in root canal, pain during a root canal can be kept to a minimum. Here is why:
- A more complete set of anesthetics provides better pain management and localized numbing. They also provide longer periods of numbness to alleviate the feeling of pain.
- The emergence of digital X-rays and 3D imaging enable more precise diagnosis of root canal cases. This lessens situations of mistreatment and reduces probability of making mistakes in the procedure.
- The use of a microscopic camera allows better visual of the inside of the tooth. Thus, the dentist has better visibility while doing the procedure. And as a treat, the patient can watch the root canal procedure as well, minus the popcorn, of course!
- The best news about today’s root canal treatment is that it requires less time than the procedures of the past. Because of all the technologies and innovations invested in making the treatment easier – both to the dentist and patient – it cuts down the procedure to only one to two hours, tops. All this makes it more pleasant and relieving than before.
Debunking the urban legend of the root canal
Now that we have the technologies and modern medicine to make a root canal more efficient and less painful, let’s take a step back to debunking certain notions or folktale about the treatment that places it in the house of horrors:
- The pain: As mentioned earlier, most of the pain experienced during the treatment comes from the infection, inflammation and abscess present as well as the damaged tissues. The pain will be alleviated after the procedure as the dentist removes the damaged cells. And most dentists are experts in pain management, so pain is resolved as quickly as you can say ahhh.
- Root canal can cause other health issues: There are proliferating claims on the Internet or in other media outlets that the treatment can cause health problems or illness. Unfortunately, this is based on a century-old study that’s been debunked for poor research back when many diseases were still misunderstood and causes were not yet explored. There’s no validity or scientific evidence proving this claim as a fact.
- Tooth extraction is a better option: Dentists all over the globe will agree that saving the natural teeth is always the best option. Nothing can replace the functionality and the look of the natural teeth. And, with the help of modern dental care, root canal treatment helps the natural tooth or teeth last longer, if not a lifetime.
Tell Tale Signs That You Need A Root Canal
Your dentist may tell you that you need to have a root canal treatment, even when you don’t feel any pain or experience any kind of toothache. The symptoms of a decaying root or tissue isn’t always tooth pain. Listen and understand carefully why your dentist recommends the procedure to save your tooth. You may not have an earth-shattering toothache but rather slight sensitivity, discoloration or an irritating sensation when chewing.
For more information on root canal and other dental care procedures, contact your dental care specialists at Southeast Family Dental.