As Fun As A Root Canal
May 28, 2014
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As Fun As A Root Canal…

For some reason, perhaps the comedic genius of Bill Cosby or Steve Martin, root canals get a bad rap.  This is a common misconception, the idea that root canals cause pain.  The opposite is actually true.  Root canals get patients out of pain. 

This misconception probably comes from the “old”days when dental anesthetics were not as effective as they are today.  Modern medicine has even improved root canals.

To understand how thisworks, one must understand  a bit of dental anatomy.  A toothache hurts unbearably because the nerves and blood vessels inside the tooth (the pulpal tissue) are trying to swell.  Unfortunately, swelling is not possible when these tissues are trapped inside of the unforgiving layers of hard tooth structure (enamel and dentin.)  Something has to give.  That give is the throbbing, dull pain of a toothache.  An added bonus is that these teeth will often hurt when biting and sometimes when hot or cold touch the tooth.

Toothaches are not fun.

When any of this occurs, a root canal can save the day.  The pressure can be relieved and the pain can be eliminated.

The process of endodontics (root canals) starts with great anesthesia.  Once a tooth is completely numb, root canal therapy will be pain free.  In the past, this might have been a problem.  Today, we have a variety of methods and medicaments to achieve profound anesthesia.  Once the tooth is put to sleep, painless dentistry can commence.

The first step of root canal therapy is to remove any inflamed or infected tissue.  A variety of state-of-the-art instruments and antibiotics are used to clean and sterilize the insides of the tooth.  Once the canals have been cleaned, a biocompatible permanent sealer is used to fill the canals all the way down to the tip of the roots.  Then, the tooth chewing end is sealed off with some type of crown to protect the tooth and prevent re-infection.

Teeth that need root canal therapy are often infected, fractured, or both.  The only alternative to conservatively treating the tooth with a root canal would be to remove the offending tooth all together.  This leads to a cascade of negative effects such as bite changes and exposed roots of adjacent teeth from drifting.  Replacement options (dental implants or bridges) are often more extensive and more expensive than saving the original tooth.

If the time ever comes, give root canals a chance.  They are not as bad as you may have heard.

-Please send questions or comments to Drs. Parrish at www.ParrishDentistry.com.

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