A Root Canal Isn’t as Bad as You Think

16 October 2019

There are a number of dental issues that can be corrected using endodontic treatment, but if your dentist recommends root canal therapy, it’s probably because the tooth is so damaged that this is the only way to prevent its extraction.

The most common dental problems that can be corrected with endodontic treatment include substantial tooth breakage and deep cavities that reach the centre of the tooth — the pulp— where nerves and blood vessels are located.

You may consider root canal alternatives such as tooth fillings or crowns to repair broken teeth. But root canal treatment may become necessary if the fracture line extends very deep into the tooth and reaches the pulp. If such a fracture is not treated promptly, you will be exposing the live tissue in the pulp to the external environment, including bacteria in your mouth, causing an infection or inflammation and extreme tooth pain.

Who needs a root canal?

Infections are the most common reason for endodontic treatment. If left untreated, these infections can become life-threatening in a few rare cases, when it gets into nearby large veins and arteries and facilitates the spread to vital organs. Tooth fractures can be caused by:

  • Trauma against an object, like following an accident during contact sports
  • Excessive chewing forces due to abnormal grinding or tooth clenching habits when asleep, usually due to stress
  • Tooth weakening from previous decay or fillings

The reason why it’s important to repair broken and/or infected teeth as early as possible is that that unlike the bones and body tissues, teeth don’t repair or heal themselves, even with medication.

While some medications, such as antibiotics, can help to manage a tooth infection or reduce pain and inflammation, they cannot solve the underlying problem. It is only after the broken pieces, and the infection has been removed that the tooth repair process can advance.

Prolonging your wait before receiving root canal therapy can make the eventual, inevitable treatment more complex for the endodontist, which in turn increases the cost of treatment. If the affected tooth is broken or has an existing cavity, then the damage will only continue, making it increasingly difficult to reconstruct lost tooth structure. The worse a damaged tooth gets, the more challenging it becomes to treat it, and the lower the success rate of treatment.

Reasons to Consider Early Endodontic Treatment

Millions of people receive root canal treatment every year to save a severely damaged tooth that would otherwise need to be removed, followed by a tooth replacement procedure.

Here are some reasons to choose root canal therapy:

It is Painless

Some people are afraid of seeking endodontic treatment because of the perception from decades ago that the procedure is painful and terrifying. This is the most common misconception facing root canal therapy. With advancements in dental technology and a greater understanding of pain control, most — if not all — dental procedures are virtually painless.

In fact, many root canal patients are quite surprised at how easy the procedure is after treatment, considering that the area will be numbed during the procedure.

It’s Not Terrifying

Another common reason why root canal therapy has acquired a bad rap over the years is due to the use of old technology. Previously, the treatment involved the use of rotary drills that required heavy pressure to clean out the infected or broken tooth. This pressure generated heat that could reach the nerve and add to the pain.

Moreover, the drilling sound itself was a cause of mental anguish for the patients, which made the process even more unbearable. Fortunately, advances in dental technology, combined with an increased focus on the chairside manner, have created a more comfortable root canal treatment that is no different from getting a tooth filling.

Takes Advantage of New Technology

The process of getting a root canal treatment is much more comfortable and pleasant than ever before. Some of the technologies that have impacted the treatment include:

  • An electric drill that spins faster with less vibration to eliminate the whirring sound and head generation of conventional drills
  • A comprehensive array of anesthesia for greater control over numbing localization
  • Laser technology as a replacement for the traditional drill for faster treatment and recovery
  • Digital X-rays and 3D imaging for more accurate diagnosis of root canal cases and better treatment planning for greater success
  • Microscopic cameras that allow for greater examination of the internal tooth structure and patient participation in treatment
  • Reduced time in the dentist’s chair which translates to less angst for the patient

Helps Preserve Your Teeth

The root canal process involves cleaning and dressing the infected area to kill and remove the root canal bacteria, after which the disinfected area is tightly packed with an orange rubber-based material known as gutta-percha. A sealer is added to help prevent the entry of new bacteria by making a tight seal between the root canal wall and the rubber.

Afterwards, a prosthetic crown is used to cap the tooth to strengthen it and reduce the risk of further breakage while improving aesthetic appeal. This process helps to save a tooth and the tooth root, and prevent tooth extraction, which would necessitate an additional tooth replacement procedure to fill the gap.

Sedation Dentistry

Root canal therapy is a common procedure for infected teeth, which is both safe and painless. But if you’re fearful about proceeding with the treatment, you can discuss with your endodontist about sedation dentistry options to help you relax and keep calm throughout the procedure. There are different levels of sedation, with the most common ones using pills or nitrous oxide to achieve mild to moderate sedation to manage anxiety.

Ask Your Dentist

If you’re still hesitant about getting a fractured or infected tooth repaired with endodontic treatment, you should make an appointment for a consultation to discuss the procedure and possible root canal alternatives.

If you’re concerned about the quality of treatment for a severely compromised tooth, it’s best to reach out to an endodontist, who is a specialist in root canal therapy, to ensure that you get all the information you need to make the right decision.

To learn more about the root canal procedure, call Oakville Place Dental at 905-842-6030 or contact us here.

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