If a root canal sounds like it would be very painful, we have the popular media to thank. After all, even President Obama has used the endodontic procedure in reference to the painful bank bailouts, calling them “as popular as a root canal”. All right, we get it. It is a dreaded dental procedure. What most people do not get, however, is that tooth root canal treatments are designed to alleviate, not aggravate, the pain you feel when you have a deep tooth infection. Also, before you write it off as a procedure that involves a very painful process, the truth is that it doesn’t have to be.
First of all, you should be aware that most of the people who require a root canal are already in pain, prior to the procedure. That is simply because the infection has affected the blood vessels and nerves in the centre of the tooth, known as the pulp chamber. The purpose of the treatment is to remove the infected tissue and drain the abscesses to relieve the pain and clear out the infected parts. When the pain is too much to bear, the dentist or endodontist would usually remedy the situation by applying an additional dose of local anaesthesia to numb the area to provide temporary relief as he works on curing you of the infection and removing the painful problem altogether. If the area surrounding the affected tooth is properly anaesthetized, the patient should not experience any pain during the procedure.
Patients who are not comfortable with needles can opt for nitrous oxide, otherwise known as laughing gas, to help relax them during the procedure. The sedation therapy has helped many patients overcome their anxiety and fears that may even lead to increased pain sensitivity.
As you can see, tooth root canal procedures, if done properly, should actually be painless. Conversely speaking, an infected tooth left untreated can become excruciatingly painful. If the infection spreads, there is also a risk of serious health problems down the road. When the infection is given a chance to seep into a person’s gum from the root of the infected tooth, filling the gum up with pus, there is very little a dentist can do at this juncture. This is exactly what a root canal is trying to prevent.
By stopping or preventing the infection from spreading, a root canal procedure can save you from a lot of needless pain. By extracting the infected parts of your pulp, what the dentist is essentially doing, via a root canal procedure, is salvage whatever is left of your tooth in order to preserve its original form and prevent an extraction, which in any dentist’s book, should be a matter of last resort. This way, you will not have any missing gaps in your smile and also prevent expensive restorative work to fill the gap. Best of all, you get to preserve your natural tooth, without having to replace it with any prosthetic material, which at the end of day, is still a foreign object.