The Truth About Root Canals

The Truth About Root CanalsMany people hear the name and shudder. While root canals are reputed to be unpleasant, painful procedures, you might be surprised to find out it’s not as bad as you think. People commonly fear what they don’t understand but compassionate dentists like Dr. Byron C Desbordes of Baltimore MD feel a little knowledge can go a long way towards alleviating that fear.

What is a Root Canal?

A root canal therapy, often called simply a “root canal” by many people, becomes necessary when your tooth’s interior tissues, called the pulp, become infected. This usually happens as the result of deep decay — cavities — or bacteria entering through a chip or crack in the surface of your tooth. The infection that began in the pulp can spread down through the root canals of your teeth into tissues of your gums and form an abscess. Abscesses, which are very severe and painful infections, can be dangerous to your overall health, increasing your risk or heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

When Do I Need a Root Canal?

There are usually signs that a tooth may need a root canal treatment.  These include sensitivity of the tooth to hot and cold, sensitivity to touch or while chewing, and inflamed and sensitive gums around the tooth. You should tell your dentist about these and any other symptoms you may be having during exams.  This will help he or she to decide if a root canal is necessary and appropriate for your tooth. Some dentists, like Dr. Desbordes, will perform their own root canals in office. Others may refer you to an endodontist. An endodontist is a dental specialist who specializes in treating the insides of teeth.

The Root Canal Procedure

At the start, your dentist will thoroughly numb the area to be treated. Then, your dentist or endodontist will drill into the crown of your infected tooth and removes the infected pulp from inside your tooth and its’ root canals. Luckily our teeth no longer require the pulp to survive as they are nourished by the surrounding tissues when we are adults.

Once the pulp has been removed, a biocompatible material — gutta percha — will be used to temporarily fill the now-empty space inside your tooth until restoration can begin. Your dentist may put on a temporary crown if the infection inside the tooth needs to heal more before a crown can be mounted on. For some root canals, where tooth decays has compromised one of the roots and made the tooth unstable in the gums, a tiny metal rod may need to be inserted down into the root to hold the tooth in place.

Restoration is the process whereby your dentist will create an artificial tooth — a crown — and place it over your compromised tooth. Your dentist or specialist will design the crown to resemble your natural teeth and will use it to seal up the interior of the tooth that has been treated. In a matter of days, the swelling of the inflamed tissues will recede and the “new” tooth can be used to chew and cleaned just like your natural teeth.

Why The Bad Reputation?

Many people fear root canals because they think that the procedure will be painful or because they may have heard “horror stories” of complications from the procedure. Root canals may have been painful in decades past but with our modern technology and anesthetics, the procedure is only about as painful as having a filling installed. The aforementioned horror stores stem from poor research from about a hundred years ago that root canal treatment led to you becoming susceptible to illnesses and disease. However, this was before the causes of these diseases and their transmission was fully understood by the medical community of the time.

Comfortable Root Canal Treatment in Baltimore, MD

Hopefully, now you can see that root canals are actually not so scary. Instead they are a helpful procedure designed to relieve pain and save the structure of your natural teeth, allowing you to chew properly and smile confidently. As with most illnesses, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure so it is vital to brush twice daily, floss daily and schedule regular exams with Dr. Desbordes. But if you do need a root canal, now you know there’s really nothing to be afraid of.  To schedule with Dr. Desbordes today, call (410) 216-4023 or schedule an appointment online.

Author: Dr. Desbordes