What is a Root Canal?
Dentists use the term “root canal” in referring to the tiny, narrow passageways that branch from a central, hollow space in your tooth (called the pulp chamber) down to the ends of the tooth roots. The term can also be used as a shorthand for “root canal treatment” — that is, the procedure used to save the tooth if the soft tissue deep inside of it (called pulp) becomes acutely inflamed or infected.
Here are the top five benefits of root canals:
1. It Will Relieve Your Pain
The most common symptom that may indicate the need for root canal treatment is a toothache. The pain may affect your ability to enjoy a good night's sleep. Root canal treatment will alleviate your tooth pain and improve your well-being.
2. It Is Virtually Pain-Free
Root canals are nothing to be afraid of. People fear root canal treatments because they assume they are painful. Local anesthesia is very effective in blocking pain during a root canal procedure. Most patients report that the procedure itself is no more painful than having a dental filling placed.
3. It Prevents Tooth Loss
In the past, diseased or injured teeth had to be removed. Today, they can usually be saved through root canal treatment. Without treatment, the tooth may have to be extracted. Saving your natural tooth is the best option.
4. It Restores Tooth Function
Because a tooth that needs root canal treatment often is one that has extensive decay, a permanent crown often needs to be placed on the tooth to strengthen it and restore it to full function. A crown can improve your speech and help you chew better.
5. It Has a High Success Rate
Root canal treatment has a success rate of over 90%. And if you take good care of it, your restored tooth could last a lifetime.
Is there an alternative?
You could have the whole tooth extracted, but it's always better to try to save it — especially since root canal treatment is routine and has a very high success rate (over 90%). Saving the tooth can prevent other troubles from occurring later on; these could include bite problems from teeth shifting position, difficulty eating, and loss of jawbone volume and density.
What will happen afterwards?
Your tooth may feel sensitive for a few days, but any discomfort can usually be relieved with over-the-counter pain medication or anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen. You will be instructed to avoid chewing on that tooth until it receives its permanent filling, which can be placed a few days later. Depending on how damaged the tooth was to begin with, it may need a full-coverage crown. Those options will be discussed with you.
How can I avoid the need for root canal treatment in the future?
Keep your teeth decay-free by brushing and flossing every day. Eat a healthy diet low in sugar and avoid acidic beverages such as soda. Have regular professional cleanings and exams. And if you're active in sports, consider ordering a custom-made mouth guard to protect your teeth from injury.