Root canal: The procedure’s name has the power to make people break out in a cold sweat. Why are so many people so afraid of root canals? If you were to ask them, you’d likely get all sorts of answers. As with a lot of things, people are afraid of what they don’t understand. But a little knowledge can bring all those fears out into the light. So let’s take a closer look at the dreaded root canal.

A root canal treatment is also commonly referred to as simply a “root canal.” It becomes necessary when the tissues inside your tooth, called the pulp, becomes infected and needs to be removed from the pulp chamber. This usually results from deep decay (cavities) or a chip or crack in the surface of your tooth. The infection in the pulp can spread down through the root canals of your teeth into tissues of your gums. This infection, called an abscess, can be very painful and can be dangerous to your overall health, possibly even leading to heart disease.

You may need a root canal treatment if you have a tooth that is sensitive to hot and cold, to touch or is painful to use when chewing. Inflamed and sensitive gums around the tooth are another indicator. Informing Dr. J Stephen Hoard of New Bern NC of these and any other symptoms you may be having during exams will allow him to decide if a root canal is necessary and appropriate for your condition. Dr. Hoard will perform some root canals, depending on the severity of the condition. For very severe cases, he may refer you to an endodontist. An endodontist is a dental specialist who specializes in treating the insides of your teeth.

In a root canal procedure, your dentist or endodontist drills down into the crown of your infected tooth and removes the infected pulp from pulp chamber and the root canals below. As adults our teeth can survive without the pulp as it they continue to be nourished by the surrounding tissues. Once the pulp has been removed, a biocompatible material will be inserted to temporarily fill the now-empty space inside your tooth until the restoration process can begin. In some cases, where tooth decay has severely broken down one of the roots and made the tooth unstable, a tiny metal rod may be inserted down into the root to secure the tooth in your gums.

During the restoration process a crown will be created and placed over the tooth that has been treated. Your dentist or specialist will construct the crown, matching it to the natural hue of your teeth, and will use it to seal up and protect the tooth from another infection. Within a few days, the swelling of the inflamed tissues goes down and the “new” tooth can be used to chew and be cleaned just like your natural teeth.

Many people avoid root canals due to the belief that the procedure will be painful or because they may have heard “horror stories” of complications from the procedure. Some even have teeth pulled rather than undergo the treatment. Dentist prefer root canals to extractions to save the natural teeth as empty spaces in your teeth can lead to teeth shifting positions and even further decay and even bone loss. There is no need to risk this. Root canals may have been painful a few decades ago but with our modern technology and anesthetics, the procedure is only about as painful as having a filling placed.

So the big, bad root canal isn’t so scary after all. Instead it’s a helpful procedure intended to alleviate pain and preserve your natural teeth, allowing you to chew properly and smile confidently. As with most ailments, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Brushing twice daily, flossing daily and scheduling regular exams with Dr. Hoard are all important steps to avoid needing a root canal, especially if your teeth have recently developed any chips or cracks. But if you do need a root canal, now you know there’s nothing to fear. To schedule with Dr. Hoard today, call 252.507.0373 or schedule an appointment online.

Posted in: General Dentist New Bern