Root Canal Perfection…
In dentistry, as in life, it is common for procedures to occur in sets of three. Last week, for instance, we saw three patients to whom we recommended root canals.
Omne trium perfectum. Translated from Latin to English: Everything that comes in threes is perfect. I hope that to be the case for our patients.
As a general rule, root canals get a bad rap. The purpose of root canal therapy (RCT) is to get patients out of pain, not to cause patients pain. They remove disease and prolong the use of a tooth and it’s root. I’m convinced that root canals get such a bad reputation because of the toothache that often leads to a root canal. If a cavity or fracture in a tooth has grown large enough to cause the need for a root canal, then that tooth is most always in pain. Root canal treatment is what helps to stop the pain.
Why do teeth need root canal therapy? A root canal might be suggested to save a tooth when the nerve of that tooth has been injured beyond your body’s ability to repair itself. Often a cavity, crack, or some other trauma will invade through the hard outer tooth structure and attack the tooth’s nerve. The pain of the subsequent toothache comes from your body’s actual response to the trauma…swelling. Swelling inside of an enclosed space, like a tooth, tends to do more damage than good. The pain is an added bonus.
A root canal removes the nerve tissue, blood vessels, bacteria, and debris from the nerve chambers (canals) of the tooth. After becoming completely numb (a prerequisite to any comfortable dental procedure), your dentist will use a combination of rotating files and antibiotic solutions to clean out your tooth. After this cleaning and shaping of the nerve chamber (some teeth can have up to four or five different nerve canals), the tooth root is sealed up to prevent bacteria from getting back in. Once the tooth's put to sleep, the actual procedure is pain free.
The final step of a root canal is to restore your tooth to its former glory. On front teeth this can sometimes be done with a tooth colored filling. Back teeth usually require a cap or crown to protect them from your heavier chewing forces. Either way, your tooth can often be pain free and looking as good as new in a couple of dental visits.
Until next week, keep smiling.
-Questions or comments can be sent to Drs. Parrish at www.ParrishDental.com.