The term “root canal” inspires fear when it should inspire admiration. The root canal procedure is often the only way a badly decayed or damaged tooth can be saved. Thanks to this procedure, destructive bone loss that comes with missing teeth is avoided, as are more costly tooth replacement procedures such as bridges and dental implants.
So why do root canals have such a bad reputation?
Medical professionals shelved a number of treatments through the years as science and technology have advanced. Some of those formerly accepted treatments were later deemed quackery and downright dangerous. Consider how leeches were commonly used for bloodletting, or how poisonous plants like hemlock passed as painkillers.
Thankfully, the dental patients of today benefit from proven anesthesia, techniques, and technologies. Yet the public’s perception of root canal treatment has not evolved with modern anesthetics and technologies. Some may think of root canal therapy as it was decades ago. Very few technologies and techniques remain static for a few years, let alone for decades.
Root canal treatment is also associated with pain, because the reason you need such a procedure is often very painful. By the time the innermost part of your tooth is badly decayed, you may be in unrelenting, throbbing pain. You may have a pus-filled pocket or abscess that has caused facial swelling. This abscess can turn into an even bigger problem if allowed to spread to other parts of the body. However, the root canal treatment itself is designed to get you out of pain in no time. It is not a cause of that pain.
What should I expect from this pain relieving procedure?
Generally, after the dentists at Big Smile Dental administer a numbing medication for your comfort, the tooth to be treated will be isolated from with a thin rubber or vinyl sheet, known as a dental dam. This creates a sterile environment as it keeps naturally-occurring mouth bacteria away from the treated tooth.
The inner part of the tooth is then accessed via a small hole. The dentist will remove diseased soft tissues with special instruments. The tooth is cleaned out and disinfected. Without pulp tissue and nerves, the tooth will no longer feel pain! You can sleep and eat comfortably again. Root canals will be shaped, filled, and sealed with an adhesive material to prevent bacteria from re-entering the tooth and causing another infection.
The hole created to access the pulp chamber is also filled. If tooth decay has advanced to where there is not enough structure to hold the filling in place, a metal or durable plastic post may be applied to one of the canals for added strength. A temporary crown is placed to protect the prepared tooth as it heals and while the permanent crown is being made in lab.
After around 2 weeks, you’ll return to Big Smile Dental to get your permanent, new tooth. Then the fun part starts: You get to enjoy a better-looking smile, free of pain. You can enjoy your new tooth for a long time because modern root canal-treated teeth can last decades, if not as long as you do.
Be sure to follow any instructions while waiting for your permanent crown to prevent reinfection, and be sure to visit Big Smile Dental for cleanings and exams as prescribed by Dr. Siegel and the team. Together with your friendly dental team in Chicago, you can prevent the need for future Root Canal treatment, and keep your teeth looking and feeling their best.