Don’t Let Your Tooth Die When Root Canal Therapy Can Save It
If you have a bad toothache, your tooth could be infected. If you just try to get through the pain, that infection can spread, forcing us to remove that tooth to protect your health. If we catch the infection early enough, we can use root canal therapy to save the tooth.
What Is Root Canal Therapy?
Root canals kind of get a bad name. You know, between it and the American public. We’re having a paradigm shift in our industry over the last five years especially, probably ten, as far as root canal versus implants. We probably oversold root canals. People think when we do dentistry it’s going to last a long time.
Root canals, there’s a real wide variance on how long they will last. I think we need to do a better job in our industry relating that to the patient. If they come in with more infection, the more difficult the root canal will be. If they come in with what we call, really not in any pain but just a periapical abscess, just an infection at the root of your tooth, they’re very simple. People are scared that it’s going to hurt and this and that.
Nowadays, with the methods that we use, they’re very innocuous. They’re actually a lot easier than any type of removing a tooth by far. If there’s more infection and the longer they’ve had it, it’s more difficult to get that healed. We try to make sure that the patient understands that. Then when you talk about root canals, implants, and bridges, like I said before, implants have over 90% success rate. Bridges in longevity have about 70%. Root canals have about a 60%. We relay that statistic to the patient. We want them to understand that these root canals, the tooth becomes non vital.
I can tell you a story about a person I love dearly, who I’m married to, who over the years had six root canals, and she only has one left. As the tooth becomes dry and brittle, and you get to live a long life, a lot of the times that tooth will crack or break or re-decay. People don’t realize that. That’s why the paradigm shift is going towards implants because you put a titanium rod in there. There’s no recurrent decay, and obviously it doesn’t dry out or become brittle like root canals. Root canals are very routine. Being scared of them, I would say 9 out of 10 patients after they’ve had a root canal, they’ll say, “You know, that really wasn’t bad at all.”
Harmful bacteria can thrive in your mouth, living off food particles left behind when you don’t brush and floss regularly. (These bacteria love sugar and carbohydrates, which is why eating too much of either can lead to cavities.) When they decide to live on the surface of your teeth, they can cause tooth decay and cavities. But there are times when the bacteria get past the enamel and into your tooth. This can happen when a cavity has been ignored for way too long.
Inside of your tooth is some material called pulp. It’s home to nerve endings and blood vessels for your teeth. When bacteria infect the pulp, you could very well lose that tooth — if the pain doesn’t get to you first. The only way to save the tooth and end the pain is root canal therapy.
In this dental treatment, Dr. Airey will make a small opening in your tooth so he can reach the pulp. Next, he will gently and carefully remove the infected pulp. This gets rid of the bacteria causing the problem. An inert material replaces the infected pulp to make sure your tooth is as strong as before. Then Dr. Airey places a dental crown over the tooth, making sure it’s protected but looking normal.
Does Root Canal Therapy Hurt?
There is a myth that root canal therapy is painful. It’s probably because of the difference between enamel and pulp. Your tooth’s enamel has no nerve endings, so when harmful bacteria create a cavity there, filling that in with tooth-colored composite material doesn’t trigger any nerves. Your pulp is where all of the nerve endings for your teeth are found, so when patients hear Dr. Airey will take out the infected parts of the pulp, they might worry those nerves will be triggered. However, thanks to local anesthetic and Dr. Airey’s expertise, root canal therapy at our Boone, NC dental office is no more painful than getting a cavity filled.
What Are Some Signs That I Might Need Root Canal Therapy?
Since the problem is that bacteria have infected the inside of your tooth, sometimes there are no signs. Our digital X-rays can spot these cases. But here are some of the more obvious signs that you can spot at home:
- A severe toothache
- Pain around the tooth
- Pain in a certain spot in your mouth when you chew
- A tooth that is unusually sensitive to hot and/or cold foods and drinks
- A strange color to a tooth
- Swollen and tender gums around one tooth
Since there can sometimes be no visible signs, this is partly why we always recommend coming in for a dental cleaning and exam every six months. The sooner we can spot an infection inside your tooth, the easier it will be to get rid of it.
- Anita K.VIEW MORE PATIENT TESTIMONIALS