Root canal… just the name of it makes some people roll their eyes. But wait!! This procedure really is helpful! They have unfortunately gotten a bad rap because way back when, getting a root canal was extremely painful. These days though that is thankfully not the case: A root canal relieves the pain instead of causing it. They truly are tooth-saving procedures that provide relief and can save a patient from a tooth extraction. With the help of a root canal an infected tooth can get cleaned, treated and repaired to its functional painless form.
Why do I need a root canal?
Just like any other part of our body, our teeth can become infected. Anyone who has had an infected tooth knows that this pain is no fun. Another reason could be that the decay in your tooth is so extensive that the only way to save the tooth and avoid an extraction is to first perform a root canal. Then using special posts and material, the tooth is built back up to a point where a crown can be made.
What does having a root canal mean?
When you have a tooth that is infected, the canals within the root that house the pulp and nerves gets irritated. Cleaning out these canals is the direct treatment for the infection. Occasionally antibiotics are needed as well if the infection is severe. Luckily the patient is given anesthetic so they cannot feel the endodontist (root canal specialist) doing this cleaning.
What is left afterwards and what do I need to do?
Essentially your whole tooth still remains minus the the contents of the canals chambers! These canals are then filled with a special temporary material during the healing period to ensure that the infection is truly gone. After that, your general dentist fills the canals with permanent material and then prepares the tooth for a crown. In 99% of root canal cases, your tooth is structurally weakened and needs this crown as a reinforcement. Otherwise the chances of fracture are significantly increased and the patient can potentially lose the tooth anyway.
Bottom line: Root canals are GREAT when you need them! Have more questions? Check out The Mayo Clinic for some extra info or post a comment below and we can personally get back to you with answers!