Endodontics is making some excellent advancements that will not only benefit patients, but also dental care providers. Root canal treatments don’t have to be something to strike fear in the hearts of dental patients. The procedure can usually be done in one fairly short office visit with no discomfort whatsoever. Here’s a little information that can help soothe any anxiety you may be feeling about having an endodontic treatment.
What is a Root Canal?
To understand what Northstar dentists do during a root canal, it helps to understand the anatomy of a tooth. The outermost layer of a tooth is the enamel. Underneath that is the more elastic dentin; and within that, you’ll find the pulp of the tooth. Inside of the tooth pulp are blood vessels and nerves. When folk are in need of a root canal, the pulp has become infected and needs to be replaced. Since the pulp of a tooth cannot be replaced with more pulp, it has to be filled in with another material, like gutta percha. Gutta percha is a substance similar to rubber that can act as both a filler and a sealant. Before the filler is placed, the inside of the tooth is disinfected to ensure that there is no more harmful bacteria left that could cause further damage.
Are Root Canal Treatments Really Painless?
A root canal can be a very painful and traumatic experience if it is not done with the proper care and tools. For most patients, having an endodontic procedure is relatively pain free. Oral surgeons will typically thoroughly numb the area so that patients feel no discomfort. For many, the most discomfort they experience is being numbed by the local anesthetic injection. However, some surgeons are very, very good at minimizing or even eliminating the discomfort the needle causes. A numbing gel can be applied to injection sites before the injection and even the use of nitrous oxide or laughing gas, can further relax patients and lessen the pain and anxiety associated with anesthetic injections.
Root Canals of Yesteryear
Before the late 1800s root canal treatments were being performed, but under much less pleasant circumstances. Now that you know exactly what’s happening during an endodontic procedure, can you imagine having it done with little to no anesthesia? As dentistry has evolved, there have been better anesthetics available. Currently, local anesthesia is the first line of defense, but if the infection is too far gone or an allergy to the local anesthetic, general anesthesia is the plan B. Back then, dentists were filling in the pulp with things like asbestos, lead and cement. In fact, the oldest root canal discovered used bronze wire as a filler. A long time ago, dentists didn’t have a very good look at what was going on inside your tooth. In order for a root canal to be effective, the entirety of the pulp must be removed and filled in so that there is no room for an infection to reignite.
A modern root canal is nothing like it used to be many years ago. As science has evolved and made new discoveries, the comfort of having the procedure done has also improved. Technology has also played a big part in increasing the success rates of saving a decaying or damaged tooth to nearly 100%. If you think you may be a candidate for a root canal, don’t let your fear or anxiety keep you from seeking treatment. Tooth decay and damage left unchecked often need more aggressive treatment had they been addressed earlier.