Root canals have one of those reputations that is, in reality, mostly undeserved. Web MD explains:
A root canal is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or becomes infected.
Root canal procedures are performed when the nerve of the tooth becomes infected or the pulp becomes damaged. During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed.
Root canal procedures have the reputation of being painful. Actually, most people report that the procedure itself is no more painful than having a filling placed. The discomfort experienced in the period leading up to a seeking of dental care is truly the painful period of time, not the root canal procedure itself.
Note that last sentence. It is letting the tooth get in such bad shape that it has become infected or abscessed. For such a condition, a root canal may be the best solution and it can save the tooth and allow it to continue to function pain free. In reality, it isn’t any more painful than getting a filling. In a root canal, the pulp and nerve are removed and the tooth is sealed. Why remove the pulp and nerve?
The pulp or pulp chamber is the soft area within the center of the tooth. The tooth’s nerve lies within root canals, which lie within the roots or “legs” of the tooth. The root canals travel from the tip of the tooth’s root into the pulp chamber, which also contains blood vessels and connective tissue that nourish the tooth.
A tooth’s nerve is not vitally important to a tooth’s health and function after the tooth has emerged through the gums. Its only function is sensory — to provide the sensation of hot or cold. The presence or absence of a nerve will not affect the day-to-day functioning of the tooth.
So if you hear the dreaded words, “you need a root canal”, don’t sweat it. In the end, you’ll be glad for the procedure, especially if it is able to save your tooth. For more information on root canals, you can read the Web MD page here. If you have any further questions, call us, we’d be glad to talk about it with you.