As far as dental procedures go, a root canal gets a bad rap. People immediately associate it with pain and discomfort and it is enough to strike fear into our hearts. Why root canals get a bad rap is something no one really knows for sure, because the reality is, most go off without a hitch and you are left with a healthier tooth than you started with and usually a lot less pain associated with that tooth.
All teeth have root canals in them. It’s just a part of the make up of the tooth, a natural cavity that is found in the center of each tooth. You need the procedure that goes by the same name then, if the pulp, the soft tissue inside the tooth becomes infected or otherwise compromised. This can happen with tooth damage such as a break or minuscule holes that appear and allow bacteria in. If you leave the tooth alone you will likely be in a lot of pain and it may even abscess–a pus filled pocket that forms on the end of tooth roots– which is something you really don’t want. Other things that can happen if you try to ignore the infected tooth is swelling of the neck, head and face and also bone loss around the tip of the root, which is something that will need additional dental procedures to fix.
This is where the procedure comes in. Simply, a root canal allows the dentist to get into the tooth and remove the infected pulp. They then clean the inside of the root canals to get all the bacteria and infected tissue out and then the spaces are sealed with a natural polymer called gutta percha. Once they are sealed, there is no room for additional bacteria or infection to get in. Alternatives to this procedure are you do nothing, which may not be a good idea, or you get your tooth extracted which can have a host of problems associated with it too.
Having a root canal these days is virtually pain free. The dentist will use a local anesthetic and after, over the counter pain killers and an ice pack will be all most patients need until the discomfort passes. There really isn’t anything to be worried about during the procedure and you will be left with a tooth that has been cleared of infection and will be ready to resume its duty in your mouth.