Need-to-Know Facts about Root Canals

Oh, boy: root canals. We know that everyone loves these horrible dental treatments. Most every patient we see has a negative opinion of root canals, despite how necessary they can be to saving your teeth.

We perform plenty of root canals at Gentle Family Dentistry, and have had to clear the air about them on multiple occasions. It’s incredibly common for our patients to be scared of root canals, and we want to fix that! Root canals aren’t the terrifying, painful, tooth-destroying monster you’ve heard about. And in almost all cases are completely painless.

Root Canals Save Teeth

When a cavity reaches deep inside the tooth it infects the soft dental pulp (nerve) that carries blood vessels and nerves to the tooth to keep it healthy. This quickly results in an infection that can not only cause the loss of the tooth, but spread beyond it as well. And it will also cause the death of that nerve leading to a dead tooth. As we will see later, dead teeth get very brittle with age and to be saved must be protected. 

The leading causes of a dead or infected nerve and thereby the need for root canal are 1. A cavity that is left untreated for too long, and 2. Trauma to the tooth. I have seen many cases of a dead or infected discolored tooth that needs root canal but has never had a cavity or filling in the tooth. But by far the most common cause of a dead or infected tooth is a cavity that has been neglected for too long. It has been shown that if you wait till you have pain in almost all cases you have waited too long. That is exactly why it is recommended that you see your regular dental hygienist every 6 months for cleaning and checkup. At that time we can find small cavities that are easy and inexpensive to repair with fillings long before you would need root canal.

Root canals remove the infected nerve and seal the tooth with a soft rubber compound. This gets rid of pain, prevents loss of the tooth, and protects it from problems later on. We never seal a tooth until it’s completely cleared of infected tissue.

By preventing tooth loss root canals also indirectly save your other teeth as well. When a single tooth is lost the bone that supported it starts to recede, being reabsorbed into the body. This causes the neighboring teeth to loosen and start to shift as well. As they lose stability their chances of falling out increases greatly, starting a potential domino effect of lost teeth!

A root canal leaves the natural tooth intact and safe, preventing any of the neighboring teeth from being harmed. Your smile can last a lifetime with just one simple procedure!

Root Canals Eliminate Pain, Not Cause It

Many of the patients that come to our Duncansville dentist office for a root canal are in pain. That infected dental pulp can be very uncomfortable! By removing the infected tissue we are able to eliminate pain almost instantly. Many of our patients find that they feel better as soon as the anesthesia has worn off. Also, Dr. Locker uses the ‘Wand’ for painless novocaine every time. Your root canal procedure will be painless.

Compare this to the classic image of root canals as a painful experience and there’s really no truth to the matter. The facts speak for themselves: root canals don’t cause pain. Many patients think this is the case because of the pain they’re in prior to the root canal procedure – it’s just a simple bit of confusion that comes along with the memory of pain. However, a tooth that needs root canal that is surrounded by a lot of swelling may need to be treated with an antibiotic 1st in order to get rid of the swelling. Too much swelling can interfere with the effect of the Novocaine and thereby potentially lead to a painful root canal procedure. But there are techniques that Dr. locker can use to eliminate that pain if necessary.

Less Infection Leads To A Healthier Body

The infection that starts in the root of your tooth doesn’t necessarily stay there. It’s uncommon, but it’s possible that an infected tooth leads to a dental abscess, a serious condition that can result in bone and soft tissue loss.

Abscesses are pockets of infection that often spread out from the root of the tooth. Abscesses can become swollen, inflamed, and incredibly painful. In some rare cases they actually destroy parts of the face due to the spread of infected tissue.

By eliminating the bacteria while it’s still in the tooth you eliminate the chances of an abscess or any other spread of infection. Bacteria from a tooth that gets into your bloodstream can be incredibly dangerous! These kinds of secondary infections are rare, but they underscore the importance of seeking treatment for an infected tooth right away.

Root Canals Are Perfectly Safe

We hear a lot from our patients that they’re worried about the safety of root canals. You may have heard some of the various myths about them: infections always come back, they cause cancer … the list goes on, and just keeps getting wackier.

We want to be completely clear so that you understand the safety of root canals: the risks that people talk about are completely fictional. Root canals, especially in this modern age of dentistry, are safe, painless, and fast. They eliminate pain, preserve teeth, and protect your health by getting rid of infectious bacteria. You’ll probably be surprised at how easy and effective they are!

How Do You Know You May Need a Root Canal?

When trauma or bacteria damages the inner chamber of the tooth that contains the dental pulp, you may feel severe root canal pain. The dental pulp contains blood vessels and nerves that trigger pain when irritated. Infection must be treated immediately to prevent damage to surrounding bone and tissues.

Call us right away if you experience any of the following root canal symptoms of an infected dental pulp:

● Severe, intermittent toothache
● Pain when using the tooth for chewing
● Persistent tooth sensitivity
● Chronic bad breath
● Tooth discoloration
● Dental abscess near the affected area
● Loose tooth

Post Operative Instructions Following Root Canal Treatment

When your Root Canal procedure is completed, usually in one visit, Dr. Locker will place a soft temporary filling in the tooth to protect it until you get back into the office in about a week for a post-core and crown procedure. You will need the post-core and crown to protect the tooth going forward. Root canaled teeth get very brittle with age and the post-core and crown prevent the tooth from breaking and being a loss. Most times when someone claims that they had a Root Canal done and then a year or so later had to lose the tooth it is because they did not get the post-core and crown done.

Dr. Locker will also give you two prescriptions before you leave the office. The first is for an antibiotic. That is to kill any residual infection and help prevent recurrent infection. The second is for pain management. It is possible to have some discomfort for a few days after Root Canal Treatment. The pain medication will help with that, should it occur.

Protect Your Health

If you’re concerned you may have an infected root then you shouldn’t wait another day. You can get safe, easy, and effective results by calling us right away at Gentle Family Dentistry today! We’re sure we can provide you with a root canal experience that will have you wanting to tell everyone how easy they really are.

To schedule an appointment call us today at 814-693-6777 or request one by filling out our online form. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Dr. Locker and his friendly, knowledgeable staff invite you to call Gentle Family Dentistry in Duncansville, PA for the greatest, most advanced, painless dental experience you have ever had.

You can call us at: 814-693-6777 or just click the link to
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And remember, You only have to floss daily the ones you want to keep.