Can you think of some old sayings or terms that have absolutely no meaning in modern day America? For instance, your grandmother may still refer to your refrigerator as an icebox even though the iceman hasn’t “cometh” since the 1930’s. Or how about those of us who still insist we’re buying an album or cassette tape instead of a CD?
We here at Southern Arizona Endodontics would like very much to clear up the misconception of one old saying in particular: “It’s not as bad as getting a root canal!” Root canal procedures have come a long way since your grandfather may have had one, and yet it’s still getting bad press! These days a root canal procedure is not much more involved than getting a cavity filled. With the modern procedures, technologies and materials available, getting a root canal is nothing to fret about — so let’s clear up a few of those archaic misconceptions!
What is a Root Canal Procedure and Why Would I Need One?
Inside each one of your teeth is something called pulp tissue. This tissue is made up of blood vessels and a nerve bundle. An infection can migrate to that pulp tissue wreaking all sorts of havoc. The infection could have started because of some trauma to the tooth (like you caught a line drive with your teeth) or due to deep tooth decay which allowed bacteria to reach the pulp tissue. Having infection inside the tooth can cause pain, but not always. If left unattended, the infection inside the tooth can cause bone loss and other potential difficulties.
If your dentist sees an infection inside a tooth via an x-ray, he may recommend a root canal and refer you to an endodontic dentist. Endodontics is a specialized area of dentistry that deals specifically with the inside of the tooth. During a root canal procedure, the pulp tissue is removed and then the space is filled and sealed with a sealing material. Afterward, your general dentist can complete the permanent restoration by, for example, putting a crown on the tooth.
It Sounds Pretty Involved. Is it Painful?
If your endodontist needs to do a root canal on one of your teeth, it really is not much more involved than getting a deep cavity filled. In most cases, the area would be locally numbed with anesthetic and you would not require any type of sedation, although conscious sedation is available to those who want it. The procedure itself takes about an hour. The majority of patients only need a mild pain reliever like Tylenol or Advil after the procedure.
5 Advancements in Root Canal Procedures
- Early Detection: One of the major advances in root canal procedures is YOU! Over the years, folks have not only improved their dental hygiene, but are also better at getting regular dental checkups which helps catch any problems early on. This means that many of the procedures are completed at the first signs of disease, which of course makes them much less involved, easier to treat and lowers chances of future complications.
- Instrumentation: Another advancement in root canal procedures are the tools and instruments used. The improved instruments have taken endodontics to a new level, allowing for vastly improved precision and have allowed the procedures to be done much quicker. This is one of the reasons most root canal visits can be completed in just one visit rather than the several visits to the endodontist that were needed in the past.
- Digital X-Rays: Also allowing for greater precision are the advances that have been made in dental x-ray technology. The improvements in x-ray technology require less radiation and allow for faster and more precise diagnosis.
- Anesthesia: The improved techniques of administering anesthetics allows us to keep the patient comfortable throughout the procedure. Because the immediate area is numbed, a patient getting a root canal basically feels no pain at all.
- Materials: Another great advancement in root canal procedures are the materials used. The rinsing agents used in irrigating the tooth and the improvements on the material used to then fill the tooth have had a huge impact on the success rate and longevity of modern day root canals.
All of these advances in the skilled hands of doctors at Southern Arizona Endodontics are why our root canal procedures have a 97% retention rate.
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