What is a Root Canal?

tooth sensitivity treatment in Monroe North CarolinaMany people feel a chill when they hear the words “root canal”. However, despite people commonly believing them to be unpleasant and painful, you may be surprised to learn that root canals are not as bad as you think.  People are often wary of what they don’t understand, but learning some basic facts about root canals can help lessen those fears. Monroe, NC dentist Dr. Leonard Hess would like to help you breathe easier about root canals.

What is a Root Canal?

A root canal treatment, commonly called simply a “root canal”, is necessary when the tissues inside your tooth, called the pulp, becomes infected. This usually happens as a result of bacteria entering through a cavity or a chip or crack in the surface of your tooth enamel. This infection in the pulp can spread down through the root canals of your teeth into tissues of your gums and become an abscess which is a very severe and painful infection that can be dangerous to your overall health.

When Do I Need One?

There are many signs that a root canal treatment may be necessary including sensitivity of the teeth to hot and cold, sensitivity to touch or while chewing, and inflamed and sensitive gums around the tooth. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should schedule a dental exam as soon as possible so that Dr. Hess or your area dentist can determine if a root canal is necessary and appropriate for your condition.

Some dentists perform their patients’ root canal procedures while others may refer you to an endodontist. An endodontist is a dental specialist that focuses on treating the interior of your teeth.

The Root Canal Procedure

First, your dentist will numb the area to be treated with a local anesthetic. Then, your dentist or endodontist drills down into the crown of your infected tooth and draws out the infected pulp from inside the tooth and the root canals. As adults,  the pulp is no longer necessary for our teeth to continue to live.

Once the infected pulp has been removed, a biocompatible material is inserted to temporarily fill the interior of your tooth until restoration can begin. In some cases, where tooth decay has damaged the roots and made the tooth unstable, a tiny metal rod may need to be placed in the root to secure the treated tooth.

Restoration is the dental term for the process in which a crown will be created and placed over your compromised tooth. Your dentist or specialist will create the crown, matching the material it is constructed of to the natural hue of your teeth, and will use it to seal up the tooth. Within several days, the swelling of the inflamed tissues will recede and the “new” tooth can be used to bite and chew and be brushed and flossed just like your natural teeth.

Why The Bad Reputation?

Many people avoid undergoing root canal therapy due to the erroneous belief that root canal therapy will be painful. Root canals may once have caused pain but thanks to modern anesthetics and dental technology, the procedure is now only about as uncomfortable as having a filling placed.

Comfortable Root Canal Treatment in Monroe, NC

So root canals are actually not so scary after all. Instead they are a helpful procedure designed to relieve pain and save your natural teeth, allowing you to chew properly and smile confidently. As with most medical and dental issues, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Brushing twice daily, flossing daily and scheduling regular exams with Dr. Hess or your area dentist are all important steps to avoid needing a root canal, especially if your teeth have recently developed any chips or cracks. To schedule with Dr. Hess today, call 704.240.5045 or schedule an appointment online.


Dr. Leonard Hess
2160 Commerce Drive Ste A
Monroe, NC 28110

New Patients 704.240.5045

Current Patients 704.289.3161

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Monday: 8am to 4pm
Tuesday: 8am to 4pm
Wednesday: 8am to 4pm
Thursday: 8am to 4pm
Friday: Closed