The Truth About Root Canals

March 19, 2013

We work with the best specialists in San Diego. I have been in practice in Carlsbad for over thirty years and have had the opportunity to see the work done by dental specilatists from all around San Diego. We work with the best of the best; specialists that we have seen produce the best results and treat our patients with the same care and concern we do. I have asked some of our specialists to help us by addressing questions and concerns that patients often have by writing a short blog answers to those questions. Our guest specialist is Dr Craig Malin, an Endodontist, whose topic is “ The Truth About Root Canals.”

At least its not a root canal..

OK. How many times have you heard that statement comparing root canal therapy to something very unpleasant that you want to avoid. Many people have anxiety when it comes to having endodontic treatment but it is largely unfounded. Pain during root canal treatment is one of the “big myths” created during the dark ages of dentistry. Actually now most root canal procedures are performed to relieve pain with little more discomfort than having a filling done. The use of advanced instruments, newer anesthetics and procedures including using microscopes to perform root canal therapy have significantly reduced the incidence of pain.

So..what actually is a ROOT CANAL and how do I know when I need one?

Root Canal Pain OriginationTechnically, the term “root canal” is a misnomer. A root canal is a part of the tooth anatomy. It is the hollow space inside the tooth that contains the pulp tissue. The main purpose of this tissue is to develop the tooth when you are a child. Once the tooth is mature, the pulp tissue is “left behind” in “early retirement” and not as important. In fact as a tooth ages the nerve atrophies and does its own root canal. Like any tissue, the nerve can become damaged by trauma or bacteria(decay) causing inflammation, infection and pain! Root canal therapy is performed to remove painful, infected pulp tissue and bacteria from the inside of the tooth. After the space is cleaned, shaped, and disinfected, it is sealed with filling material. A permanent filling or crown will then be placed to seal and protect the top of the tooth.

It is pretty easy to know that you may need root canal treatment, when you have significant pain. These teeth commonly have lingering pain to cold or hot, pain to chewing, or just spontaneous pain. The dentist will test your teeth and may refer you to an Endodontist if he thinks that you may need treatment. However, many teeth that need root canal treatment don’t hurt at all. This is why radiographs (X-rays) are so important. Routine X-rays can show chronic, painless infections from teeth that may need root canal treatment because they are a “silent infection” infection in the bone that grows slowly..

Remember, root canal therapy is performed to save teeth and relieve pain. If you still can’t relax, try the laughing gas.