Root canals are one of the most notorious dental procedures. If you’ve never had one yourself, you’ve probably heard a family member or coworker groan at the prospect of having their tooth drilled and filled. We get it!
Thankfully, though, we’re here to tell you that root canals aren’t as bad as you think. (We promise.) They get a bad rap because old-school technology might have been a bit rough on your grandparents — but today we have a carefully refined process to make the whole experience a breeze.
Here’s what a root canal is really like!
First: What’s the purpose of a root canal?
A root canal is a specialized dental procedure designed to save an injured or decayed tooth without having to fully replace it. During a root canal, your dentist removes your tooth’s damaged pulp (also called the “nerve”) and seals the area off from your surrounding tissues to keep it safe from infection.
Root canals are almost painless
While root canals have a negative reputation of being painful, most people actually report that the procedure is no more uncomfortable than getting a filling placed.
The worst pain comes before the procedure
In fact, patients experience the most pain before they seek dental care. The inside pulp of our teeth is extremely sensitive, so it’s no wonder that a damaged or decayed nerve causes discomfort!
There are ways to relax during the appointment
Some patients listen to music to relax during their root canals — and we can also use a tool called the DentalVibe to alleviate any discomfort related to receiving a local anesthetic.
Traditional over-the-counter painkillers are enough
Once the procedure is finished, most people start to feel better quickly. If there is pain after the root canal, a simple painkiller like ibuprofen or naproxen will do the trick.
Step one: Your dentist drills into your tooth
Any time we think about someone using a power tool in our mouth, it sounds uncomfortable — and probably a little scary. Before your dentist does any work on your tooth, though, he or she will make sure the area is completely numb. You won’t feel a thing!
Once your local anesthetic and any other relaxation protocols are in place, your dentist will drill an access to your tooth. The surrounding area will likely be covered with a rubber dam to keep it free of excess saliva during the process.
Step two: Decayed tissue is removed
Your dentist will use a series of root canal files to remove all of your tooth’s damaged tissue. It’s particularly important to get everything out to avoid any future infection — as your dentist works, water or sodium hypochlorite will be sprayed in the area to fully flush away any debris.
Step three: Your tooth is fully sealed
Once your tooth is thoroughly cleaned, your dentist seals it up. This involves putting a rubber compound into the root canal and then filling the hole that was originally drilled to create access.
Step four: Your tooth heals quickly
Many patients are able to resume their normal daily routine the day after having a root canal procedure. Some sensitivity and tenderness may be experienced in the first 24 to 48 hours, but it usually goes away quickly on its own. Soon, the tooth feels better than ever before!
Root canal treatment is highly effective — the procedure has more than a 95% success rate. A tooth with a root canal can provide years of service similar to any teeth that haven’t been treated.
How can you prevent the need for a root canal?
Though root canals aren’t as big of a deal as they might seem, it’s still best to prevent them altogether.
Simple dental hygiene routines — like brushing twice a day and regularly visiting your dentist for check-ups — can prevent tooth decay. It’s also a good idea to wear mouth protection during athletic events to avoid any injuries.
If you have any questions about root canals or your oral health in general, Madison Family Dental is here for you. Get in touch with our experienced team today!