Real Talk About Root Canals

Just saying the words “root canal” can bring on a cold shiver for some people. Root canals have have a bad reputation as being unpleasant, painful procedures, but that might not be a fairly deserved one. You might be surprised to find out that root canals are not as bad as you’ve been led to believe.  People have a tendency to fear what they don’t understand and the root canal has been a victim of this propensity too. However, Arlington Heights dental provider, AH Smiles would like to provide you with some facts that may help alleviate those fears.

What is a Root Canal?

What is usually referred to as simply a “root canal” is actually a root canal therapy or treatment. This procedure becomes necessary when the soft tissues inside your tooth — the pulp — become infected as a result of deep decay (cavities) or a chip or crack in the surface of your tooth enamel. This infection can travel down through the root canals of your teeth into tissues of your gums becoming an abscess — a very severe and painful infection that can be dangerous to your overall health.  

When Do I Need a Root Canal?

There are warning signs that a root canal may be necessary. These include a sensitivity of the tooth to hot and cold and to touch, and inflammation and sensitivity of the gums around the affected tooth. Talking to your dentist during examinations about these and any other symptoms you may be experiencing will help he or she to decide if a root canal is necessary and appropriate for your condition. Some dentists will perform their patients’ root canals while others will refer you outside their offices to an endodontist — a specialist in treating the interiors of your teeth.

The Root Canal Procedure

To start, your dentist will thoroughly numb the affected area before drilling down into the crown of your infected tooth and removing the infected pulp from the interior and the root canals of the tooth. As adults, our teeth no longer need the pulp inside our teeth as the surrounding gum and jawbone tissues will continue to be nourish them.

Once the infected pulp has been drawn out, your dentist or endodontist will use a biocompatible material to temporarily fill the now-empty space inside your tooth until restoration can begin. In some severe cases in which tooth decay has made the roots of the tooth unstable, a tiny metal rod may need to be inserted down into the root to anchor the tooth in place in your gums.  

Restoration is final part of the process in which a crown is created and placed over your damaged tooth. Your dentist or specialist will design and create the crown using state of the art computer design, matching it to the natural hue of your teeth. The crown will seal up the tooth, preventing any further infection from starting inside. The swelling of the inflamed tissues will recede in only a few days and then the “new” tooth can be used to chew and cleaned just like your natural teeth.

Why The Bad Reputation?

Many people are afraid of root canals due to the belief that the procedure will be painful or because they may have heard “horror stories” of complications from the procedure. Root canals may once have been painful decades ago but now, thanks to our modern technology and anesthetics, the procedure is only as painful as getting a filling. As for the “horror stories”: there was a myth spread by poor research about a hundred years ago that root canals could cause to you be susceptible to illnesses and disease, but this was before the causes of these diseases and their transmission was properly understood.

Comfortable Root Canal Treatment in Arlington Heights, IL

So the big, bad root canal is nothing to fear. Instead it’s a helpful procedure designed to alleviate pain and save your natural teeth so you can chew properly and smile confidently. As with most illnesses, it’s easier to prevent them then cure them. Brushing twice daily, flossing daily and scheduling regular exams with your AH Smiles dentist are all important steps to avoid needing a root canal, especially if your teeth have recently developed any chips or cracks. To schedule with an AH Smiles dentist today, call (847) 230-9703 or schedule an appointment online.