In today’s world, root canals are associated with the absolute worst aspects of dentistry. The term typically calls to mind images of frightening tools and painful procedures. Luckily, the real procedure is far different from this very skewed, historical perspective. As the dentists at Mint Dental in Anchorage explain, root canals are actually a healing procedure that helps get rid of pain rather than causing it.
What is a root canal?
Root canals are very specialized procedures designed to treat badly damaged teeth. Normally, the soft insides and nerves (known as the pulp) of a tooth are protected by a hard exterior, but, in cases of extreme decay, the pulp of a tooth can become damaged and infected. Left untreated, the infection can cause enormous pain and spread to the gums and tissues surrounding the teeth, eventually eating away at the bone in your mouth. Early detection and treatment is vital in these circumstances.
Unfortunately, infections of this type can’t just be treated with antibiotics. A dentist has to physically get into the pulp of the tooth and clear out the infected tissue. The root canal therapy procedure does just that.
During the procedure, the dentist carefully drills through the outer layers of the tooth until he or she can see the damaged pulp. The nerves and pulp are carefully removed, and the remaining space is cleaned, filled, and sealed off to prevent any further infection from developing. After making sure all the infection is eradicated, the dentist completes the procedure by filling the opening, leaving the tooth just as functional as before.
You might be thinking, isn’t removing the nerves of a tooth a bad idea? Actually, it’s not really a big issue at all. The important role of the nerves is to direct the tooth while it grows in. For fully developed adult teeth, the nerves don’t play a big role at all. They help the teeth detect the presence or absence of heat, meaning that the absence of the nerves don’t actually change the day-to-day functions of the tooth. Patients who go through a root canal can return to chewing and eating normally.
Why might I need a root canal?
Root canals are the ultimate healing treatment for dental patients, but many patients might not even realize that something is wrong. Because it’s very hard for a layperson to detect signs of problems in the pulp, most people don’t find out there’s a problem until they visit the dentist.
Here’s where you can get a step ahead of your fellow dental patients. We, at Mint Dental Alaska, have compiled a list of common symptoms seen in patients who require root canals. These include:
- Severe toothaches or pain when chewing;
- Temperature sensitivity (i.e. pain when the tooth comes into contact with hot or cold substances);
- Discoloration in the tooth;
- Swollen and tender gums;
- Pimples on the gums.
While the presence of these symptoms might not necessarily point to nerve damage as a cause, other problems like a normal cavity or like gum disease could cause similar symptoms, they definitely mean that you should visit a dentist to get a closer look at the situation.
If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, or if you just want more information regarding root canals, contact a Mint Dental Alaska dentist to get a professional’s input! Dental issues are notoriously hard to diagnose, so only a certified dentist can exactly pinpoint what might be wrong with your teeth.
You can see one of our dentists by calling (907) 646-8672. Contact us today to set up an appointment!