Need a Root Canal Procedure? It’s Not Nearly as Bad as it Sounds!
There’s a story about a woman and her husband who interrupted their vacation to go to the dentist. “I want a root canal done but I don’t want any Novocain because I’m in a big hurry,” the woman said. “Just do the work as quickly as possible, and we’ll be on our way.” The dentist was quite impressed. “You’re certainly a courageous woman,” he said. “Which tooth is it?” The woman turned to her husband and said, “Show him your tooth, dear.”
What is a Root Canal Procedure and Why Would I Need One?
Inside each one of your teeth is something called pulp tissue. This tissue is made up of blood vessels and a nerve bundle. An infection can migrate to that pulp tissue through a blood vessel. This infection could have started because of some trauma to the tooth (like you caught a line drive with your teeth) or due to tooth decay which allowed the bacteria to reach the pulp tissue.
If your dentist sees this infection inside a tooth via an x-ray he will recommend a root canal. During the root canal procedure, your dentist will clean out the infection and then fill and seal the space with a sealing material. When necessary the dentist then crowns the tooth. 80% to 85% of general dentists are capable of performing root canals for their patients.
It Sounds Pretty Involved. Is it Painful?
If your dentist needs to do a root canal procedure on one of your teeth, it is really not much more involved than getting a cavity filled. In most cases, your dentist would only need to numb the area with anesthetic and you would not require any type of conscious sedation or general anesthesia. The procedure itself only takes about an hour or two. All most patients need after the procedure is a mild pain reliever like Tylenol or Advil.
The Good News
The good news is, with the advances made in the material used and the improved techniques, modern-day root canal procedures are about 95% successful. More good news is that many of these procedures can be avoided altogether with proper dental hygiene. Keeping your teeth clean and seeing your dentist every six months will help you avoid ever having to have a root canal procedure.
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