Unfortunately, the root canal has become a synonym for dreaded activity, as in “I’d rather have a root canal than do XYZ.” However, that’s an unfair characterization of this valuable tool to protect patients’ smiles.
Root canals can save teeth that have developed a significant infection rather than extracting those teeth. Furthermore, the benefits of saving your biological teeth whenever possible are numerous.
Root Canal Therapy: An Overview
Root canal therapy removes tissue from the tooth’s pulp chamber that has either become infected or is at risk of becoming infected. Dr. Morris prepares the tooth for the root canal by administering a local anesthetic and then creating a small hole in the tooth to access the pulp chamber.
Dr. Morris then removes all of the infected pulp tissue and thoroughly cleans the empty space to remove any lingering bacteria. That space is then filled with an inert rubber-like substance called gutta-percha.
Because root canals can leave teeth more susceptible to breakage, treated teeth are typically fitted with a dental crown for extra protection after the root canal has been completed.
Root Canals: Myths and Misconceptions
Root canals have developed a negative reputation that is largely unwarranted. Here are a few of the myths and misconceptions about root canals.
- Root canals are painful. Not only do most patients report no more discomfort with a root canal than they have when a cavity is filled, root canals often alleviate the pain associated with infection. When patients experience persistent pain after a root canal it may indicate that some issue is going on and you should follow up with your dentist for further evaluation.
- Root canals cause sickness elsewhere in the body. There is no scientific evidence of this claim.
- You should have a tooth pulled rather than having a root canal. As you can see from the list of benefits offered by natural teeth below, there are many compelling reasons to try to save your biological teeth whenever possible and only consider extraction when there is no alternative.
If a root canal has been recommended in your case, make sure that you visit our office for an evaluation to get the straight facts.
How Root Canals Protect Your Oral Health
Root canal therapy can have wide-ranging benefits for your oral health, as well as your overall wellbeing. Untreated infection in one tooth can have ramifications for the rest of the smile. For example, the infection can spread from the initially infected tooth to its neighbors, putting them at risk as well.
If an infection is present in the tooth, not only is the tooth at risk for being lost, but your general health can suffer, as well. Bacteria in a tooth’s inner core can access the bloodstream and spread throughout the body. This presents the risk of a potentially fatal condition known as sepsis.
As advanced as modern tooth replacements like dental implants have become, it’s still preferable to save your biological teeth whenever possible. Your natural teeth are most effective at:
- Preserving the integrity of the smile’s appearance
Root canals can give many patients the best chance of saving their biological teeth and preserving all of that functionality.
A root canal is recommended when a tooth has developed an infection that has reached the pulp material in its core and it becomes necessary to remove that material to eliminate the infection. Root canal therapy may also be recommended preventatively for broken or cracked teeth when the pulp tissue is exposed to the oral cavity and at significant risk for infection.
While infection in the tooth’s pulp material can aggravate nerve endings and cause significant discomfort for patients, that doesn’t always happen. Even when patients aren’t experiencing pain with infected pulp tissue, a root canal is recommended to save the patient’s tooth. The ultimate goal is to remove the source of infection so that it can’t do further damage either to the tooth itself or elsewhere in the body.
When bacteria infiltrate the tooth’s core, it can threaten the long-term health of the tooth, ultimately leading to the death of the tooth if left unchecked. If the infected material is removed and the empty chamber cleaned thoroughly, the tooth can be saved.
Several factors can affect the nature of the root canal procedure, such as the location of the infection and the number of root canals being treated. Therefore, the timeframe of a root canal can be different for different patients. Keep in mind that some root canals also require multiple appointments. Your dentist can advise you of what to expect after assessing your case.
The cost of root canal therapy is influenced by multiple factors, such as the complexity of the procedure and whether the patient chooses sedation. Therefore, the treatment cost will vary from patient to patient, and we can give you an estimate of what we expect your out-of-pocket responsibility to be upon evaluating your case. We understand that our patients may face budgetary constraints, and we do accept a variety of payment options, including credit cards and Care Credit financing, to help you get the care you need in a way that is affordable to you.