The root canal is probably the most feared (and misunderstood) dental procedure on the planet. For some reason, it has a reputation for being a tremendously painful and traumatic procedure, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In reality, root canals are often the last line of defense for a severely decayed or damaged tooth that would otherwise have to be extracted.
At Manhasset Dental Arts, our dentists offer emergency dentistry services at our practice in Manhasset, New York, which includes root canal therapy. Here, we separate fact from fiction when it comes to root canals.
Why you shouldn’t be scared of getting a root canal
Contrary to popular belief and urban legend, a root canal is not the worst form of torture known to humanity. In fact, they’re not even really that painful. Everyone has a different level of tolerance for discomfort and pain, but many people are surprised to learn that a root canal is actually pretty similar to getting a cavity filled in terms of how much pain and trauma you can expect.
Here’s what happens: When bacteria reach the pulp (soft tissue inside the tooth) through a cavity or a crack in the tooth, it can cause inflammation or an infection. A root canal procedure removes the damaged tissue and cleans the inside of the tooth to remove the bacteria.
Just like with a dental filling, you’ll receive topical anesthesia to numb the area and keep you comfortable during the procedure. The dentist will drill a small hole in the tooth and remove any bacteria and damaged tissue. Once it’s been thoroughly cleaned, the tooth is sealed and is as good as new.
If you’ve ever had an infected or inflamed tooth, you know how painful it can be. In addition to saving your tooth from permanent damage and possible extraction, a root canal is actually a remedy for tooth pain.
When is a root canal necessary?
You won’t know if you need a root canal until you go to the dentist, but there are a few signs that indicate that your tooth is badly infected. In general, pain is usually considered a dental emergency. If your tooth hurts or is throbbing for more than a few days, schedule an appointment for a dental exam as soon as possible.
Other signs that you might need a root canal include:
- Extreme sensitivity to hot or cold
- Dark spots on the tooth
- Swollen gums
- Loose tooth
- Other signs of infection
The best way to protect your teeth and gums from decay and gum disease is to practice good oral hygiene and to go to the dentist every six months for a checkup and professional cleaning.
Don’t let fear keep you from getting the dental care you need. For more information about root canal therapy and the dental services we offer at Manhasset Dental Arts, contact us today to schedule an appointment by calling 516-472-7573.