Mention the words “root canal” to many people and you may induce feelings of dread. But despite their unfairly deserved reputation as an unpleasant and painful treatment, you might be surprised to find out they’re not as bad as you think. All too frequently, people tend to fear the unknown or what they don’t understand.
However, being educated on some basic facts can go a long way towards answering questions and dispelling fears, especially with Arlington Heights, IL dentists Dr. Engelberg and and Dr. Oleari of AH Smiles providing the answers.
What is a Root Canal?
Sometimes bacteria can invade the interior of a tooth and cause an infection which can then spread to the tooth’s root canals — hence the name of the procedure — and into the tissues of your gums forming an abscess. Abscesses are very serious and painful infections that can be dangerous to your overall health since they have been shown to increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as being a threat to your teeth.
When Do I Need a Root Canal?
Signs that a root canal may be necessary are sensitivity of teeth to hot and cold foods and drinks, sensitivity while chewing, and inflamed and sensitive gum tissue around the tooth. Informing your AH Smiles dentist about these and any other symptoms you may be having during exams will allow them to decide if a root canal is needed in your situation. Some dentists will perform their root canals while others will refer you to an outside endodontist — a dental specialist who specializes in treating the insides of your teeth.
The Root Canal Procedure
First, your dentist will thoroughly numb the area to be treated with a local anesthetic. Then, your dentist or endodontist drills down into the crown of your infected tooth through the enamel and draws out the infected pulp (soft tissue) from inside the tooth and the root canals. As adults, our teeth no longer require the pulp to live as the surrounding tissues will continue to nourish them.
Once the infected pulp has been removed, the inside is temporarily packed with a biocompatible material until the restoration phase can begin. When tooth decay has destroyed the roots to the extent that the tooth has become unstable, a tiny metal rod may need to be inserted to support and stabilize the new crown.
Restoration is the final stage of the process wherein a crown is designed and created by your dentist and then placed over your treated tooth. Your dentist or specialist will create the crown, matching its’ color to your other teeth, and will use it to seal up the tooth. Within several days, the swelling of the inflamed tissues will recede and your restored tooth can be used to chew and be brushed and flossed alongside your natural teeth.
Why The Bad Reputation?
Many people avoid having root canal therapy due to the belief that the procedure will be painful but that just isn’t so anymore. Root canals might have once been painful decades ago but thanks to our modern technology and anesthetics, these days the procedure is only about as uncomfortable as having a tooth filled.
Comfortable Root Canal Treatment in Arlington Heights
So now you can see that root canals are nothing to be afraid of. They’re a helpful procedure, designed to relieve pain and save your natural teeth so you can chew properly and smile with confidence. As with many conditions, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Brushing twice daily, flossing daily and scheduling regular exams with your AH Smiles dentist are all important steps to prevent needing a root canal in the first place. It is especially important if your teeth have recently developed any chips or cracks. But if you still need a root canal, now you know there’s nothing to fear. To schedule with AH Smiles today, call (847) 230-9703 or schedule an appointment online.