How Do Root Canals Work?

Due to their ominous reputation, some people with dental pain will avoid having a root canal that could truly benefit from one. However, you may be surprised to learn that root canals aren’t really that bad. It is easy to feel nervous about having a procedure you may not really understand, so it’s important to take the time to learn some basic facts. This little bit of knowledge can help relieve some of your anxiety and help you see that a root canal is more helpful than harmful. Monroe, NC dentist Dr. Leonard Hess would like to provide some information in defense of the root canal.

root canal monroe nc

What is a Root Canal?

Root canal therapy is often referred to as simply a “root canal” by most people. This surgical procedure is usually recommended by your dentist when the pulp — the soft tissues inside your tooth becomes infected. This infection is usually due to bacteria entering the interior of your tooth through deep decay such as cavities or damage such as a chip or crack in the enamel of your tooth.

Once the infection inside your tooth begins to spread it can move down through the roots of your teeth into your gum tissue and form an abscess. Abscesses are a very severe and painful infection that can endanger your overall health by increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other serious medical conditions.

When Do I Need a Root Canal?

There are many indicators that you may have an infection in the root of your tooth.  These symptoms include:

  • Sensitivity of the teeth to hot and cold
  • Sensitivity to touch or while chewing
  • Inflammation and sensitive gums around the “problem tooth”

If you have these symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible so he or she can perform a complete examination, including an x-ray. An x-ray can look inside the roots of the tooth, below the gum line, to see if a root canal is necessary and appropriate in your case. Some dentists perform their own root canals while others may refer you out to a local endodontist — a dental specialist that focuses on treating the insides of your teeth.

The Root Canal Procedure

To begin, your dentist will thoroughly numb the area around the infected tooth using a local anesthetic. Then, he or she will drill down into the crown of your infected tooth, to access and draw out the infected pulp (soft tissue) from the interior and roots of the “problem tooth”. Once our adult teeth have grown in completely, they no longer need this pulp to survive because the surrounding gum tissues will continue to nourish your teeth.  This is why gum health is so important to your dentist in addition to you having clean and healthy teeth.

Once the infected pulp has been removed, a biocompatible material will be used to temporarily fill the cavity inside your tooth until the restoration can be completed. In some cases, where tooth decay has damaged the roots and made the tooth unstable, a tiny metal rod may need to be added into the damaged tooth to help support the crown over your damaged tooth.

In the final stage of the process, a crown will be created and placed over the affected tooth. Your dentist or endodontist will expertly create the crown, matching it to the natural coloring of your teeth, and will use it to cover the treated tooth. Within several days, the swelling of the inflamed tissues will go down and the “new” crowned tooth can be used to chew and be brushed and flossed alongside your natural teeth.

Why The Bad Reputation?

Many people are hesitant to undergo root canal therapy due to the mistaken belief that root canal therapy will be painful. To be honest: It’s best not to need a root canal but sometimes, despite our best efforts, they are necessary. However, thanks to modern dental technology and anesthetics, a procedure that was once complicated and painful is now simple and mostly comfortable. The procedure is now only about as uncomfortable as having a filling placed.

Comfortable Root Canal Treatment in Monroe, NC

So now that you’ve learned a little more about root canals, maybe they don’t seem so intimidating. Instead, we hope you can now recognize the root canal for what it is: a helpful procedure designed to preserve and protect your natural teeth so that you can chew and smile with confidence. To schedule with Dr. Leonard Hess in Monroe, NC office today, call 704.240.5045 or schedule a complimentary consultation.