Don’t Be Afraid of Root Canals
Root canals may be the dental procedure patients fear the most. But, we hope to explain why root canals are sometimes necessary to protect and save a tooth and why patients should not fear them.
A good starting point for this discussion is an informative article and video about root canals at Mouth Healthy, a website maintained by the American Dental Association (ADA). The article includes a diagram of a tooth and explains how healthy teeth receive nourishment through blood supplied to them through the canals in a tooth.
The Mouth Healthy article contains the following explanation of a root canal:
The pulp is soft tissue inside your tooth that contains nerves, blood vessels and provides nourishment for your tooth. It can become infected if you have:
- A deep cavity
- Repeated dental procedures that disturb this tissue
- A cracked or fractured tooth Injury to the tooth (even if there’s not a visible crack or chip)
If untreated, the tissues around the root of your tooth can become infected. When this happens, you will often feel pain and swelling and an abscess may form inside the tooth and/or in the bone around the end of the root of the tooth. An infection can also put you at risk of losing your tooth completely because bacteria can damage the bone that keeps your tooth connected to your jaw.
When patients come to our office with symptoms of nerve damage or infection, Dr. Albers opens up the tooth to reduce pressure caused by swelling from the infection. He also treats it with an antibiotic. If he determines that the nerve is dying or dead, he then begins the process of cleaning the canals in the tooth of nerve and other soft tissue. After thoroughly cleaning out the root canals, Dr. Albers fills them with a rubberized material to completely seal them.
When a tooth no longer has a nerve and blood supply, it becomes more brittle. For this reason, Dr. Albers sometimes recommends that a dental crown be placed on a tooth after a root canal to protect and strengthen it.