For many people, the thought of getting a root canal is frightening and causes feelings of dread. Root canal therapy has gotten a reputation for being very painful.
However, modern root canals are significantly less traumatic; in fact, many times the patient feels only minor discomfort. Plus, the benefits significantly outweigh the discomfort factor.
If you are experiencing symptoms such as a toothache, sensitivity, or swelling, you may need root canal therapy to restore your oral health.
What is root canal therapy?
Root canal therapy, also known as endodontic therapy, is the process of removing infected or decayed tooth matter, along with the tooth’s nerve. The purposes include:
to rid the tooth of decay or infection
to prevent future infections
to restore the tooth’s strength
Who can benefit from root canal therapy?
For patients who have significant tooth decay or an infection inside the tooth, root canal therapy is the ideal treatment. Patients who want to avoid losing the tooth need to undergo root canal therapy.
When is root canal therapy necessary?
A root canal becomes necessary when a patient is in danger of losing a tooth due to decay or infection. Left untreated, an infection can spread, causing a painful abscess, bone loss, and other serious problems.
How is root canal therapy performed?
The first step is to take x-rays to determine whether infection or other complications are present.
Next, the patient receives an anesthetic to minimize discomfort. Some patients also opt to use sedation to keep themselves feeling relaxed during the procedure.
Once the patient is ready, the dentist drills into the tooth and removes the tooth’s pulp as well as the nerve.
Then, the tooth is sealed to prevent further infection.
If the tooth’s strength has been compromised, which is often the case, a crown will be placed on top of it to provide stability and enable the patient to chew normally.
The complete root canal procedure is likely to take more than one dental appointment. In some cases, it’s necessary to wait to seal the tooth until the infection has cleared. A separate appointment will also likely be necessary to place a crown over the tooth.
Brief history about root canal therapy
Root canals have existed in some form since at least the first century A.D. Archaeologists have even discovered evidence that the ancient Egyptians may have performed root canals. Of course, modern dentistry has made the procedure much more comfortable for patients.