As dental procedures go, the root canal treatment is one that has among the most tilted public reputations, despite the fact that it's often the very last line of defense in trying to keep a person's natural tooth. Advances in recent years have made the root canal significantly more comfortable to get, but it's important for patients to understand what the operation is about before making any decisions.
What Is Being Treated?
When you picture the diagram of a tooth you learned about back in grade school, you may remember that there are prongs, the roots, that come down from the tooth into the gums in order to secure it. Inside each of these prongs is a pulp, living tissue that can become infected or inflamed. An abscess can begin to develop at the point where the root attaches to a person's gums, creating a difficult problem for a dentist to try to correct.
How Does It Work?
The goal of a root canal is to drill out any infected material and fill it. This calls for drilling a canal down to the pulp and performing the removal procedure. The pulp can be removed because it's actually a leftover from the tooth's development, and it's not necessary for an adult tooth to thrive.
Why Do Root Canal Operations Have a Bad Name?
Contained within the pulp are blood vessels and nerves. In fact, the infection of these materials in the tooth is what frequently causes so much pain for patients. Due to the proximity of nerves and blood vessels to the drilling area, it is common and was especially common prior to the advent of more modern techniques for there to be a lot of nerve pain following the completion of the procedure. Doctors now have more precise instruments, and they also have access to better local anesthetics.
Is a Root Canal Necessary?
The arrival of medicated fillings, as part of what is known as a carries control procedure, in the last decade or so has provided dentists with an alternative. Unfortunately, that also means that when a dentist starts thinking a root canal treatment is necessary, they really are flat-out out of other options for preserving the natural tooth. Doctors prefer to keep natural teeth for as long as possible. This is because natural teeth maintain a normal bite, and replacements, such as partials, may rub on neighboring teeth.