We understand that a root canal is probably the last thing you want to discuss with your dentist. People tend to view this procedure as painful and risky, but those are actually misconceptions based on outdated information, with a large dose of urban legend.

A root canal procedure relieves pain. This point may be hard to believe, but it is true. Despite the horror stories you’ve heard, a root canal marks the end (not the beginning) of your suffering. To explain, let’s start at the beginning.

What causes toothaches?

There are several possibilities, but one of the most common is an infection inside of the tooth. It often starts with something rather minor, such as a fine fracture you weren’t even aware of, or maybe a tiny cavity that you ignore.

  • Once something has damaged the protective enamel, bacteria reach the softer dentin layer, where cavities can grow quickly.
  • When the cavity becomes deep enough, it allows bacteria to enter the middle of the tooth. In the case of broken or fractured teeth, the damage may go all the way to the middle, giving bacteria a passageway before cavities even form.
  • In the center of the tooth are hollow spaces, known as the root canal and the pulp chamber. In a healthy tooth, these hollows provide a safe place for nerves, vessels, and other soft tissues. Unfortunately, once bacteria move in, they become a safe haven for infection. No amount of brushing or cleaning your mouth can remove these bacteria, because they are shrouded in hard tooth tissue.
  • As bacteria multiply and tissues become inflamed, pressure builds inside of the tooth, causing sensitivity. When the infection reaches the jawbone (at the end of the root canal), the pain can become severe. Sometimes it spreads, creating pus pockets, known as abscesses, in the gum tissue.
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How a root canal helps

Although a root canal is technically part of a tooth, most people use the term in reference to a dental procedure – endodontic therapy. Thanks to modern anesthetic techniques, it is not painful; the area is completely numbed before work begins.

The procedure is very straightforward, and it has a high rate of success when performed by a knowledgeable dentist such as Dr. Dean Dietrich. He begins by creating an opening in the tooth, just large enough to access the inner chambers. All infection and injured dental pulp are removed, and the canal is sterilized. Next, the root canal is filled with a rubbery material and sealed to prevent reinfection. That doesn’t sound much different from having a cavity cleaned and filled. In reality, it isn’t. Most patients compare the procedure and aftereffects to a simple filling.

The last step is restoration. In some instances, a cosmetic filling can be placed where the tooth was opened. However, root canal procedures tend to cause a degree of brittleness, so a crown is usually placed to protect the tooth from fracturing. That’s it – when the process is complete, your tooth can feel as good as new, and the chronic toothaches are gone.

Don’t keep suffering with that toothache! Call (708) 576-1900 and schedule an appointment at Pleasant Dental® today. Our office is located in Dolton, IL, just minutes from South Holland.

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