Root Canals 101

Even the least squeamish among us is afraid of root canals. But what is it, really? Many dental procedures instill fear in people, but root canals are one of the most commonly feared procedures. Dr. Brenda Paulen and the team at Proud Smiles wants you to know that root canals are nothing to fear!

Teeth have sensitive tissues inside them, referred to as pulp. If this pulp becomes infected, whether by a deep cavity or a chip or crack on the surface of the tooth, it can cause a painful abscess below the gums which needs to be treated. Even an infection in the mouth can affect your overall health. The treatment for this abscess in the root canals of the teeth is called a root canal treatment.

How Do I Know if I Need a Root Canal?

No two people are the same, but there are some symptoms that usually mean there’s a problem. If your teeth are very sensitive to temperature or if you experience discomfort while chewing, let your dentist know. You may also notice your gums are inflamed and sensitive in one specific area. Your dentist will perform an exam to diagnose the problem and determine the most conservative and effective treatment.

Sometimes, the best treatment isn’t even a root canal. You may be referred to an endodontist, a dental specialist who specializes in treating the insides of the teeth. In many cases, though, a root canal is the best treatment, but Dr. Paulen will consult with you to determine the best treatment for your needs.

The Root Canal Procedure

Your comfort and safety is our priority, so the first step of the root canal procedure is to numb the area. Then, the infected pulp is removed from inside the tooth by drilling down into the crown of the tooth. Adults don’t need the pulp inside the tooth because the tooth will receive nutrients from surrounding tissues.

Once the infected pulp is cleared, a special material is placed inside the tooth to temporarily fill it until the crown is created. In some cases, where severe tooth decay has affected the roots, a small metal rod is inserted to hold the tooth in place in the gums.

Next, a crown is created and placed over the affected tooth. This crown will match the natural hue of the teeth and will seal the tooth to prevent bacteria from getting in. Within a few days, you’ll see the swelling start to go down and you’ll be able to use your tooth like normal again.

Is It Painful?

Part of the reason that root canals are such a feared procedure is because they’ve heard that it’s painful or there’s a high risk of complications. Fortunately, modern dental technology has transformed the root canal procedure and it’s usually no more uncomfortable than having a filling placed. Dr. Paulen and her team have many years of experience with this procedure.

If you start to experience symptoms of tooth decay, make sure you schedule an appointment as soon as possible to avoid complex dental problems. Call 404.418.7734 or request an appointment online today!