Root canals are one of the most misunderstood and dreaded dental procedures. Many patients avoid having a root canal because they don’t understand the value of the procedure and they believe that root canals are uncomfortable and painful.
This is unfortunate because root canals are an important dental procedure that can save a patient’s natural tooth and avoid having to extract the tooth and replace it with a dental implant, bridge, or some other prosthetic device. In addition, although the procedure takes longer than placing a filling, a root canal should be a comfortable, painless, anxiety-free experience.
A root canal refers to the area in the middle of a tooth that contains the pulp, nerve, and blood vessels. When a tooth is damaged by extensive tooth decay, a crack, or throught some type of trauma, bacteria can seep into the root canal and cause an infection. Left untreated, the infection will spread, destroying the tooth which will then need to be extracted.
During root canal therapy, the dentist gains access to the root canal by drilling a hole in the tooth. The nerve, pulp, and blood vessels are removed and the root canal is cleaned, disinfected and sealed. A cap is usually placed to protect the tooth and the root canal from further damage. An adult tooth can survive without the nerve and blood vessels and with ordinary care the tooth should last for the patient’s lifetime.
Improved techniques combined with advances in technology have made most dental restoration work virtually pain free, including root canal therapy. In addition, most modern dentists offer some form of sedation such as nitrous oxide, oral sedatives, or intravenous sedatives to eliminate anxiety and to enhance patient comfort. Talk to your dentist about your options for painless, anxiety free root canal therapy.
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