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What is a Root Canal?

Oral cancer awareness, Asheville, NCWhile root canals are thought to be unpleasant, painful procedures, you might be surprised to find out they’re not as bad as you’ve been led to believe. As people often do, they tend to fear the unknown or what they don’t understand. But a little knowledge can go a long way towards allaying those fears so that people can get the help they may need from their dentist. Asheville NC dentist Dr. Shawna Hoffert of Red Maple Dental wants to help you get to know root canals a little better.

What is a Root Canal?

A root canal treatment or therapy is often just called a “root canal” by most people. This procedure becomes necessary when the pulp — the tissues inside your tooth — become infected. This infection is usually stems from bacteria entering the tooth due to deep decay (cavities) or a chip or crack in the surface of your tooth (the enamel).

If the infection spreads all the way down through the root canals of your teeth into tissues of your gums, an abscess — a very severe and painful kind of infection — can form. These kinds of infections can lead to an increase in your risk of heart disease and other physical ailments.

When Do I Need a Root Canal?

A root canal may be necessary when your teeth experience the following: Sensitivity of the tooth to hot and cold, sensitivity to touch or while chewing, and inflamed and sensitive gum tissue around the tooth. Informing your dentist of these and any other symptoms you might be having during exams will allow he or she to decide if a root canal is necessary and appropriate for your situation.

Some dentists will perform root canals themselves in their own offices. Others will refer you to an endodontist which is a dental specialist who specializes in treating the insides of your teeth.

The Root Canal Procedure

To start with, your dentist will begin by thoroughly numbing around the site of the procedure. Then, your dentist or endodontist drills down into the crown of your infected tooth to draw out the infected pulp from inside the tooth and the root canals. As adults, our teeth no longer need the pulp inside as they can continue to be nourished by the surrounding bone and gum tissues.

Once the infected pulp has been drawn out, a biocompatible material will be used to temporarily fill the inside of your tooth until restoration can begin. In some cases, where tooth decay has compromised one of the roots, making the tooth unstable, a tiny metal rod may need to be inserted down into the root to stabilize the tooth in place in your gums.

Restoration is the technical name for the process when a crown is created and placed as a cap over your compromised tooth, effectively restoring it’s natural appearance and function. Your dentist or specialist designs and crafts the crown, matching its’ hue and shade to the rest of your teeth. Within several days, the swelling goes down around the procedure site and the “new” tooth can be used to chew (gently) and be brushed just like your natural teeth. As the implant bonds to your jawbone, it will become stronger and more able to be used for normal chewing.

Why The Bad Reputation?

Many people are wary of having root canals due to the belief that the procedure will be painful or because they may have heard “horror stories” of complications from the procedure. Decades ago, root canals may have been painful but with our modern dental technology and anesthetics, the procedure is only about as painful as having a filling placed. The “horror stories” also claim that root canal therapy can make you prone to developing illnesses and diseases. However, these rumors are the product of a time before the causes of diseases and their transmission was fully understood and proper sterilization procedures were not always followed.

Comfortable Root Canal Treatment in Asheville, NC

So root canals aren’t so scary now that you’ve gotten to know a little more about them, right? Instead they’re a helpful procedure to help alleviate dental pain and save your natural teeth, allowing you to chew properly and smile confidently again. But, as the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Brushing twice daily, flossing daily and scheduling regular dental exams are all important steps to avoid needing a root canal, especially if your teeth have recently developed any chips or cracks.

But if you do discover you need a root canal, now you know there’s nothing to fear.  To schedule with Dr. Hoffert today, call (828)-358-1925 or schedule an appointment online with Red Maple Dental in Asheville NC.