Root canals have a bad reputation of being painful and scary. The truth is like many medical procedures, root canal therapy has advanced over the past few decades to become a much less painful procedure.
If you’re scared of having a root canal, we’ve got an expert here to let you know it most likely won’t be half as bad as you think. Here’s what you need to know about having root canal therapy:
Root canal therapy isn’t scary
“Once the local anesthetic is on board, the procedure should be painless,” said Tony Nader, DMD. “Any discomfort will more than likely be gone the next day. It’s nothing that an over-the-counter medication such as Ibuprofen can’t take care of,” he added.
Why do I need root canal therapy?
There are two common problems that require root canal therapy:
- advanced tooth decay
- severe tooth damage or trauma
Advanced tooth decay
Tooth decay happens when a cavity gets out of control. A cavity will first start to eat away at the enamel and dentil layers of a tooth. If it’s left untreated, it can infect the softer center of the tooth called the pulp.
An infection in this area will cause discomfort. This includes sensitivity to hot or cold beverages or even a constant, throbbing pain.
Severe tooth trauma
Tooth trauma is quite common. If you experience a trauma to your tooth, visit your dentist as soon as possible. A dental professional will be able to diagnose any tooth or bone damage. This is only possible to determine through the use of x-rays.
With simple chips or fractures, the treatment might be more cosmetic. The chipped piece may need to be reattached or filled in using a tooth-colored filling. In more severe cases where the tooth pulp has been impacted, root canal therapy is likely.
A root canal saves your tooth
Root canal therapy is a common procedure. In fact, millions of teeth are saved and treated using root canal therapy each year. Root canal therapy prevents tooth problems from getting worse. If your dentist has told you that you need root canal therapy, avoiding treatment will only make matters worse. This means your pain and discomfort levels will likely increase as well.
“Most importantly, root canal therapy will save your tooth,” said Dr. Nader. “Losing a tooth is more expensive in the long run than trying to save it.”
Once the root canal therapy has been completed, good oral hygiene is crucial. This will help ensure that treatment is successful.
“I tell my patients, ‘When you buy a new car, you still have to maintain it, put gas in it and change the oil in order to give it life,’” said Dr. Nader. “Just because it is new doesn’t mean it won’t break down. Brush and floss twice a day, and keep the dentist away.”
How does root canal therapy heal my mouth?
Root canal therapy stops the progression of an infection, saves your tooth and alleviates your pain or discomfort. This important treatment can help you keep your tooth and restore its health. The procedure is common and pain is minimal. By getting treatment as soon as you need, you’re avoiding larger – and more expensive – problems down the road.
Tony Nader, DMD is general dentist with advanced education in a one year General Dentistry Residency program through The University of Florida.