We have all heard the jokes that compare root canals to any number of unpleasant scenarios. In reality, however, getting a root canal in the modern era is not a painful, nightmarish experience. In fact, root canal therapy saves over 20 million teeth each year in the United States. If left untreated, these badly-infected teeth would have eventually worsened and needed to be removed entirely. Still feel a bit wary? Here are the ins and outs of root canal therapy, as explained by a dentist in Coeur d’Alene.
What is a Root Canal?
Also known as endodontic treatment, root canal therapy is a procedure to repair and save a severely-infected tooth. The treatment targets the pulp of a tooth – the soft tissues inside the root canal that contain nerves. Pulp infection can cause extreme pain in one’s everyday life and lead to an abscess. Common causes of pulp infection include:
- A deep cavity
- A cracked tooth
- Repeated dental treatment to the tooth
- Other trauma to the tooth
Are Root Canals Extremely Painful?
The short answer: no! According to the American Association of Endodontists, most patients feel little to no pain at all during root canal treatment. Thanks to modern anesthesia and sedation dentistry, root canal therapy is no more uncomfortable than getting a routine filling! What is painful, however, is living with a severely-infected tooth and putting off much-needed treatment.
The Steps of Root Canal Therapy
Root canal therapy is typically completed in one or two visits to the dentist’s office, depending on the severity of the infection. The treatment steps typically are as follows:
- First, your dentist will apply local anesthesia to numb the treatment area. If you are feeling anxious during the procedure, ask your dentist if nitrous oxide is available to help sooth your nerves.
- Next, he or she will make a small hole in the top or back of the tooth to access its inside. The infected inner tissue, commonly called the “nerve” of the tooth, will be removed using special instruments.
- Finally, once the inner chamber of the tooth is thoroughly cleaned and its canals are reshaped, the dentist will refill the tooth with a biocompatible material known as
If your root canal therapy is completed in one visit, you will leave the office with a new permanent filling or crown in place. If two visits are required, your dentist will place a temporary filling or crown in your mouth while the infection completely heals.
Am I a Good Candidate?
You should talk to a dentist in Coeur d’Alene about root canal therapy if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Severe tooth pain
- Tooth discoloration
- Heightened sensitivity to heat or cold
- Discomfort when chewing
- Swelling, drainage and tenderness in the lymph nodes
Remember: the real nightmare scenario is living with the pain of an infected tooth, not fixing one! If you are experiencing severe tooth pain, talk to a dental professional today about the best way to find relief.
About the Author
Since graduating from Loma Linda University, Dr. Filip Orban has been committed to helping men and women in northern Idaho improve their oral health and overall wellbeing. An active member of the Idaho State Dental Association, he offers root canal therapy at his Coeur d’Alene practice. Patients old and new can contact Dr. Orban by visiting the Orban Family Dental website or calling 208-667-1546.