“You need a root canal,” is one of the most-feared statements your dentist could make. Root canal treatments are often associated (incorrectly) with excruciating pain, and you will do anything to avoid them.
How bad is getting a root canal—and how can you avoid needing one?
What is a root canal?
Root canals are the hollow spaces or chambers in the roots of your teeth. They contain pulpal tissues which consist of blood vessels that nourish the tooth and collect in the pulp chamber. They also contain nerves that run through the root canal and send signals—including pain—to the brain.
If there is irreversible damage or disease within the pulp, it can cause pain and infection. The pain can be relieved or infection treated with a root canal treatment.
What is a root canal treatment?
Root canal treatment, also known as endodontic treatment, cleans out the infected pulp. The decontaminated area is then replaced with an inert filling such as gutta-percha (rubber like material) along with a cement or sealer. In most cases, the tooth is capped with a crown.
How do you know if you need a root canal treatment?
The following are the most common factors contributing to a need for root canal treatment:
- Infection caused by deep decay or a very large filling
- Severe gum disease
- Trauma, such as a physical blow to a tooth or a constant striking of a tooth in the opposite jaw
It used to be that a tooth with a disease or infected nerve had to be removed. In 95% of the cases, however, this is no longer true. A root canal treatment will remove your pain and save your tooth.
Here are some signs that you might need a root canal:
- Serious tooth pain while eating
- Sensitivity to hot or cold that lingers after the hot or cold stimulus is removed
- A small, pimple-like bump on the gum near the source of the tooth pain
How painful is a root canal treatment?
Root canal treatments are one of the most feared dental procedures, but most of that perception comes from the pain a person experiences before the procedure. This pain is often because of a severe infection. Rather than causing more pain, a root canal treatment relieves pain. You receive a local anesthetic for the procedure, which makes it no more uncomfortable than getting a filling.
But how do I avoid getting a root canal treatment in the first place?
This one is easy. Follow the magic formula we give in this article about how to have great teeth when you’re 60—and older:
- A healthy diet
- Consistent at-home care
- Use fluoride
- Regular dental visits
Anything that helps prevent tooth decay and maintains healthy teeth will help you avoid getting a root canal.
Main Street Dental Clinics has offices in Rochester, MN; Owatonna, MN; Mankato, MN; Blooming Prairie, MN; and New Richland, MN. If you want more specific information about how to avoid needing a root canal treatment, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.