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We’re all scared of something — heights, deep water, spiders, the dark. And when it comes to dental treatments, we know there’s one thing that usually tops the list: root canals. 

In a survey conducted by the American Association of Endodontists, 41% of adults said they would rather go swimming with sharks than get a root canal treatment! And in the same survey, 71% of 18-to-24-year-olds said they would rather run a marathon. 

However, thanks to advancements in technology, root canals are nothing to be afraid of.

In today’s blog post, we’ll dive into the basics of what a root canal is, what to expect from a root canal treatment, and explore some common myths associated with the procedure.

What is a root canal?

A “root canal” can refer to 2 different things: 

  1. The inner passages (or “canals”) of a tooth 
  2. The dental treatment used to restore a severely infected tooth 

You’re probably most familiar with the latter. A root canal treatment involves cleaning the canals of the tooth inside a tooth’s root, then filling and resealing the cleaned tooth. This helps to remove the infection in the damaged tooth and prevent reinfection. 

It is also used to save a natural tooth from dying or being removed.

Why you may need a root canal

To understand why anyone needs to get a root canal, let’s first review some of the key parts of a tooth. 

  • The crown – this is the visible part of the tooth. It is usually covered by enamel. 
  • The root – this is the unseen part of the tooth, below the gumline. The root anchors into the jawbone, holding the tooth in place. 
  • The enamel – the hard outer layer that wraps around our teeth. Enamel protects the tooth from bacteria and decay. 
  • The dentin – the layer beneath the enamel. It is yellow in appearance and made up of hard, porous material. When the enamel wears down and exposes the dentin, it can lead to tooth sensitivity and teeth yellowing. 
  • The pulp – the soft inner layer of the tooth, the pulp is made up of very sensitive blood vessels, tissue, and nerve endings. It is housed in the pulp chamber and extends from the tooth’s crown all the way down to its roots. 
  • The root canals – these canals act as passageways for the pulp to reach the roots of the tooth. 

A tooth develops a cavity when sticky, hard bacteria called plaque or hard mineral deposits called tartar break down the enamel of a tooth, creating a small hole that, if left untreated, begins to dig deeper into the layers of the tooth. 

When bacteria reach and infect the pulp of a tooth, a serious infection can lead to a tooth abscess, death of the pulp, and eventually tooth loss. A root canal procedure removes the infection and can save a tooth from being extracted.

Signs you may need a root canal

A few of the common symptoms of a severe tooth infection include: 

  • Persistent tooth pain 
  • Tooth sensitivity to heat or cold 
  • Pain when you bite, eat, or touch the tooth 
  • Swollen gums 
  • A tooth that feels loose 
  • Tooth discoloration 
  • A small bump, like a pimple, that appears on the gums near the tooth 
  • A cracked or chipped tooth 

However, it’s important to note you can still need a root canal and not exhibit any noticeable signs. That’s why it’s important to visit your dentist for your regular 6-month exams.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, or simply wish to set up your next dental exam, contact us today!

The root canal treatment at Sedation Dentistry of Sunny Isles

Here’s how the root canal procedure works: 

  1. Dr. Diane and Dr. Frank will walk you through your treatment plan and discuss sedation dentistry options with you if you are anxious or worried about your root canal treatment. 
  2. When you come in for your root canal appointment, we will take an x-ray of your mouth using a Cone Beam CT Scan. This scan takes a crystal clear image of your teeth and jaw and allows us to view the roots of the teeth and look for any signs the infection has spread. 
  3. Then, we’ll apply a local anesthetic to the tooth and surrounding area to ensure you stay comfortable throughout the entire procedure. 
  4. From there, we’ll use dental tools to make an opening in the top of the tooth and remove the decay and infected pulp. 
  5. Then, we’ll clean the pulp chamber and root canals, followed by filling and sealing them to prevent reinfection.
  6. Finally, to protect the tooth from any future damage, we’ll apply a crown (a natural-looking artificial tooth) custom made to fit your mouth. Ask us about our same-day crowns! 
  7. You will likely experience very minor discomfort for 1-2 days following the procedure. After that, your tooth should look and function just like new!

3 common root canal myths

Myth #1: Root canal treatments are extremely painful 

This might have been true decades ago, but thanks to advancements in sedation dentistry, local anesthetics, and dental technology, modern-day root canal treatments don’t really feel much different than getting a cavity filled. Following the procedure, most patients report a bit of soreness or mild discomfort for a few days. 

On the other hand, living with an infected tooth can cause chronic and/or worsening pain until it is properly treated. 

Myth #2: It’s better to pull the tooth than get a root canal 

It’s best to save the natural tooth whenever possible. Removing a tooth with no plan to replace it can cause a malocclusion, or misaligned teeth, as the teeth shift without the support of the missing tooth. This can lead to even more treatments down the road, and cause discomfort and difficulty biting or chewing food. 

Advancements are being made all the time in the look, feel, and function of artificial teeth. However, common tooth restorations like bridges, dentures, or implants are not always permanent and often require multiple appointments for treatment.  

Myth #3: It’s a long process involving multiple appointments

Every case is different and requires a personalized treatment plan, but generally, a root canal treatment can be completed in 1-2 visits.

Sedation Dentistry of Sunny Isles can help

Whether you suspect you have a root canal or you simply want to help prevent them, you can rest assured that at Sedation Dentistry of Sunny Isles, we are committed to helping our patients feel comfortable and confident in the treatment they are about to receive. We’ve invested in the latest technology, and provide a number of luxurious amenities like: 

  • Private treatment suites
  • Noise-canceling headphones
  • Aromatherapy
  • Sedation options 

Contact us today at (786) 629-1503 or book your appointment online here.