Root Canals 101

Root canal: The procedure has become notorious, inducing dread in people. If when you ask people what a root canal is, you may get all sorts of answers. As with many things, the unknown breeds fear. But a little knowledge can go a long way towards soothing that fear. So let’s try to get to know the dreaded root canal a little better.

What is a Root Canal?

A root canal treatment or root canal therapy is the proper name for the procedure commonly referred to as simply a “root canal”. This becomes necessary when the tissue inside your tooth, called the pulp, becomes infected and spreads down into the root of your tooth through the root canal. This can happen as the result of 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 forming an abscess. Abscesses are very severe and painful infections that can lead to tooth or even bone loss and could potentially be dangerous to your overall health, spreading into your heart.

Do I Need a Root Canal?

Signs that a root canal may be necessary are sensitivity of the tooth to hot and cold, sensitivity to touch or while chewing, a dull ache or pain in the tooth or gums and inflamed and sensitive gums around the tooth. The Nashua NH dentists at Levesque Dentistry, Drs. Adrian and Keith Levesque and Dr. Tara Vogel perform most root canals in their office but may refer out to an endodontic specialist for extensive procedures. Endodontist specialize in treating the nerves inside the teeth.

The Root Canal Procedure

Root canal therapy involves your dentist or endodontist drilling down into the crown (the top surface) of your infected tooth to remove the infected pulp from inside the tooth and the root canals. Our teeth no longer require the pulp when we are adults as they will continue to be nourished by the surrounding tissues.

Then, a biocompatible material will be used to temporarily fill the now-empty space inside your tooth until restoration can begin. In some cases, when the tooth has now become unstable, a tiny metal rod may need to be inserted down into the root to secure the tooth in your gums.

In the restoration phase of the procedure, a crown will be created and placed over your compromised tooth. Your dentist or specialist will create the crown out of material that mimics your natural teeth, right down the hue, sealing up the tooth. The swelling of the inflamed tissues will recede after several days and the “new” tooth can be used to chew and cleaned just like your natural teeth.

Things to Know

Many people admit to avoiding root canals due to fears that the procedure will be painful or because they may have heard “horror stories” of complications from the procedure. There is some pain in root canals but it is comparable with having a filling thanks to our modern technology and anesthetics.

So the big, bad root canal is actually nothing to be frightened of after all. Instead, it’s a therapeutic procedure to alleviate pain from infections and save 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 Drs. Levesque or Dr. Vogel are all important steps to avoid needing to have 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 your Levesque Family Dentistry dentist today, call 603.547.9203 or schedule an appointment online.