Oceanside, NY Cosmetic Dentist Discusses Root Canal Therapy
Root canals have a negative connotation of being one of the most difficult and painful dental procedures one can endure. The truth is that they are almost always painless, and with today’s modern dental technology, they are often very easy for the patient. Perhaps some of the stigma surrounding root canals is that they are usually not well understood by the patient. This “fear of the unknown” is often what creates fear and anxiety for patients. So what exactly is a root canal?
A root canal, more properly termed “root canal therapy” or “endodontic therapy” is the process by which the pulp of a tooth is removed and replaced with an inert filling material, thereby preventing future bacterial infection.
Now, let’s examine this in layman’s terms. Every tooth has a root or roots, and within the roots exist small, centralized cylindrical channels—“canals”—that run vertically through the root from bottom to top. It is helpful to think of the canal as a tunnel running through the root itself. Within the canal resides the pulp, a collection of nerves, blood vessels, and other tissues. The pulp is responsible for providing nutrients and, more importantly, sensation to the tooth—especially when that sensation is pain.
Why do I need a root canal?
Root canal therapy is necessary when the pulp becomes infected. The process of bacterial invasion can occur in a number of ways, but the important thing to know is that root canal therapy is the only treatment that will cure the infection for good. Although your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help with the pain or swelling, the relief will only be temporary until the pulp is removed.
With the understanding that infected dental pulp cannot be cured, the rationale behind root canal therapy is plain to see: with the pulp of the tooth removed, there is no longer a medium for bacterial growth and infection.
What is the root canal process?
Your dentist will begin the root canal process by injecting anesthetic around the infected tooth. Once the tooth is numb, a hole is drilled through the top of the tooth (or the back side, if a front tooth) until the pulp chamber is reached and the canals can be visualized. Small instruments are then used to remove the pulp, clean the walls of the canal, and prepare them to be filled with “gutta percha,” a naturally occurring substance that is used to fill the canal space. In almost every case, a crown is typically recommended following a root canal in order to provide long term strength and protection to the tooth.
Have questions for your Oceanside, NY cosmetic dentist? Please call Smiles by Design at (516) 766-0732.