Root canal: The name of the procedure has the power to induce dread in people. While root canals have a record of being unpleasant, painful procedures, you might be surprised to find out it’s not as bad as you think. Thanks to modern dental technology, the root canal treatment is a safe procedure designed to help repair a damaged tooth to avoid an extraction. Learn more about root canals with us here at Ridgetop Dental in Sterling, VA.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal treatment, commonly referred to simply as a “root canal”, becomes necessary when the tissue inside your tooth, called the pulp, becomes infected. This usually happens as the result of deep decay from cavities, or a chip or crack in the surface of your tooth. The infection in the pulp can spread down through the root canals of your teeth into your gums, forming an abscess which is a very severe and painful infection that can be dangerous to your overall health.
When Do I Need a Root Canal?
Signs that a root canal may be necessary include:
- Temperature sensitivity
- Sensitivity to touch or while chewing
- Inflamed and sensitive gums surrounding the infected tooth
Informing your dentist of these and any other symptoms you may be having during exams will allow him or her to decide if a root canal is necessary and appropriate for your condition. Some dentists will perform root canals. Others will refer you to an endodontist, which is a dental specialist who specializes in treating the insides of your teeth.
What to Expect During A Root Canal
First, your dentist will thoroughly numb the area to be treated. Then, your dentist or endodontist drills down into the crown of your infected tooth and removes the infected pulp from inside the tooth and the root canals. As adults, our teeth no longer require the pulp as the teeth get nutrients from the surrounding tissues.
Once the pulp has been removed, a biocompatible material will be used to temporarily fill the now-empty space inside your tooth until restoration can begin. In some cases, where tooth decay has compromised one of the roots and made the tooth unstable, a tiny metal rod is inserted down into the root to hold the tooth in place in your gums.
Restoration is the process whereby a crown will be created and placed over your compromised tooth. Your dentist or specialist will create the crown, matching it to the natural hue of your teeth, and will use it to seal up the tooth. Within several days, the swelling of the inflamed tissues will go down and the “new” tooth can be used to chew and cleaned just like your natural teeth.
Why The Bad Reputation?
Many people avoid 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 have been painful decades ago but with our modern technology and anesthetics, the procedure is only about as uncomfortable as having a filling placed. As far as the “horror stories” there was a myth propagated by poor research about a hundred years ago that root canal treatment led to you being susceptible to illnesses and disease. However, this was before the causes of these diseases and their transmission was fully understood.
Comfortable Root Canal Treatment in Sterling, VA
So the big, bad root canal is actually not so scary. Instead it’s a helpful procedure designed to alleviate pain and save your natural teeth, allowing you to chew properly and smile confidently. As with most illnesses, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Brushing twice daily, flossing daily and scheduling regular exams with your Ridgetop Dental dentist are all important steps to avoid needing a root canal, especially if your teeth have recently developed any chips or cracks. But if you do need a root canal, now you know there’s nothing to fear. To schedule with Ridgetop Dental today, call (703) 520-7410 or schedule an appointment online.