Root Canal Treatment – The Truth About The Procedure
Our Chelmsford dentists help to allay patient concerns
If there is one thing that we expect a patient to react negatively to, it is when they are told that they need to have a root canal procedure. Most of us have probably heard people say “I’d rather have a root canal” when expressing their dislike of something, indicating that nothing could be worse than this treatment.
The reality though is that most people have probably not had the treatment and have subconsciously accepted that it is incredibly painful. This isn’t good news when you are told that you actually need to have this carried out!
In today’s Blue Sky Dental blog, we hope to help you understand the procedure and to overcome the anxiety often associated with this treatment. We will look at why you might need it and also what actually happens during the treatment itself.
Root canal infections
Patients that require this treatment do so because the soft pulp material, which includes the nerves and small blood vessels, that is located in the root canals of the tooth have become infected. This can happen in a number of ways including tooth decay, when the infection has reached the pulp material, cracked or broken teeth and even gum disease in some cases. Once this part of the tooth has become infected, it cannot be ‘healed’ and there are only two options available. These are extraction or root canal treatment.
Because of its reputation, some people may actually think it better to have the tooth extracted, but this is not a good idea where a tooth can be saved. Tooth loss can have a number of impacts including causing surrounding teeth to encroach into the space, leading to a domino effect of teeth becoming more crooked. There are options, such as dental implants, that can replace the missing tooth, but as it can usually be saved effectively with root canal treatment, this is usually the best option.
For anyone thinking that they would rather just live with the infection than undergo the treatment, this is not an option. If you refuse treatment and choose to take your chances, there is every likelihood that you will be contacting us requesting an emergency appointment soon afterwards due to severe pain, quite possibly caused by the formation of an abscess.
With this in mind, let us take a look at the treatment itself and why it really shouldn’t be feared.
The root canal procedure
The reality is that this treatment is an invasive one and therefore, some discomfort is inevitable during the treatment. Thankfully, due to modern local anaesthetics, this should be relatively minimal and no worse than many invasive procedures. Once you attend our local Chelmsford dentist for this treatment, the following will happen.
- We will thoroughly examine the problem and take x-rays to determine its exact location and condition.
- You will be given a local anaesthetic. This will numb the area thoroughly and allow us to carry out the procedure whilst providing a high degree of comfort for the patient. No pain should be felt during the procedure though you may feel vibrations from the drill.
- A rubber dam will be placed around the infected tooth. This will help to keep the tooth dry and reduce the risk of contamination of other teeth.
- A small opening will be made in the top of the tooth to allow the dentist to access the root canals where the infection lies.
- The infected pulp material will be removed and a thorough cleaning of the now hollow canals to remove any lingering bacteria will be carried out.
- The cavities will be shaped to ensure that the root canals can be filled securely.
- A special filling called gutta percha will be used to fill the cavities and seal the tooth to prevent any further infection from occurring.
- In many cases, a crown will then be fitted to the top of the tooth, both to offer additional strength and protection, but also to provide a more natural and aesthetic appearance.
There may be some residual soreness following the treatment but this should heal naturally. If you feel there are any issues of concern following the treatment, please contact us for advice.
A root canal filled tooth is, in effect, a ‘dead’ tooth as the nerves have been removed. This does mean that it can be more difficult to assess how hard you are biting on things. For this reason, although it will be reasonably strong, it may not be as strong as a healthy tooth and we advise that you avoid biting into hard foods with it. Provided that you do this and make sure to keep it clean and keep your check up appointments with us, your treated tooth should last you for many years to come.
We hope that this step by step explanation will help you to understand the reality of this treatment rather than that based on rumour. If you need any further advice on it or have any questions, we are happy to help.
For more information about root canal treatment or any other procedure or problem, Blue Sky Dental is here to help you. Simply give us a call on 01245 211070.