The words root canal can strike fear into the hearts of the bravest men, but this procedure should not cause you extreme dental anxiety. Modern dentistry has improved greatly in the past decades. A root canal is a complex dental procedure, but it can bring lasting benefits and relief from pain.
What Is a Root Canal?
The roots of your teeth are below your gums, so they are not visible, but they do anchor your teeth to your jaw. Inside these roots are blood vessels, nerves, and lymph tissue. If you have a deep cavity that leads to a serious tooth infection, you may need a root canal to avoid losing your tooth completely. When the pulp tissue dies, it must be removed, or it can cause even worse problems for you and your general health.
How do you know if you have a root canal infection? Pain is only one symptom, although the most noticeable one to most people. Root canal pain is a strong, throbbing pain in and around your infected tooth. That pain may appear or become worse when you are chewing using that tooth or that part of your mouth and when you are drinking or eating hot or cold foods.
Other symptoms include: heat/cold sensitivity, swollen or tender gums near the infected tooth, facial swelling, tooth discoloration, or a pimple that forms on the gums. It’s rare, but some people do develop a root canal infection without showing any of these symptoms which is why routine dental checkups are so important to schedule and keep.
Root Canal Therapy
You may not want to have root canal therapy, but this is not a procedure to fear. In most cases, with modern dentistry and a well-trained dentist, about 95% of teeth with pulpal nerve damage can be saved. Your dentist will remove the dead pulp, clean out the root canal, and then seal it off. After this is done, he will install a dental crown on top of it. The procedure in its entirety will take three dental visits to accomplish.
You may want to avoid having a root canal, but there are many reasons why this is a good solution for your serious dental problem. First, any good dentist will not recommend a root canal if a lesser procedure can fix the issue. Secondly, the pain and discomfort is not typically greater than getting a cavity filled. Your dentist will use an anesthetic to dull the pain during the procedure.
Most importantly, if you avoid getting a root canal because of the fear of pain, you will likely be causing yourself more pain down the road. This is not the type of dental issue that will resolve itself. The other option is a tooth extraction, but the cost of having your tooth removed and then replaced with an implant is higher than a root canal. And there are issues of both function and appearance when you have your tooth extracted and don’t replace it.
If you have noticed tooth pain when biting down or chewing, tooth sensitivity when consuming hot or cold foods or drinks, or facial swelling, call your dentist right away and schedule an appointment. If you want to save your tooth, your health, and your bank account, do not delay in scheduling your root canal treatment.