Posts for: April, 2013
If the words “root canal” frighten you, what you probably don't know is that “root canal treatment” doesn't cause pain, it alleviates it — by treating infection deep in the root of your tooth.
- What is a root canal? The central chamber of a tooth contains the living vital tissues comprising the pulp including its nerves and blood vessels. The interior of the tooth's roots containing the pulp make up its root canals.
- How do I know if a tooth has a root canal infection? Symptoms of root canal infection may include sharp, intense pain when you bite down, a dull ache or pressure, or tenderness and swelling in gums near an infected tooth. There may be lingering pain after eating cold or hot foods. However, sometimes an infected tooth may stop hurting and you no longer feel pain. This doesn't mean the infection has gone, only that the nerve may have died. Make an appointment if you suspect that you have any or some of these symptoms.
- Why would a tooth need root canal treatment? If the tissues in the root canal/s become infected or inflamed because of deep decay or trauma to a tooth, root canal treatment is needed to treat the infection and save the tooth. If left untreated, root canal infection can spread into the bone immediately around the root.
- What takes place in a root canal procedure? After a local anesthetic is administered to numb the tooth and surrounding area, a small opening is made in the biting surface for a back tooth, or behind a front tooth. Dead and/or dying tissue is removed from the pulp chamber and the root canals are cleaned, disinfected, and sealed to prevent future infection.
- What can I expect afterwards? Your tooth may feel tender or sensitive for a few days. You can take over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, aspirin or ibuprofen, for example, to relieve pain or discomfort. Contact us if you have pain that lasts more than a few days. A crown is usually needed to protect the tooth following root canal treatment. Further arrangements need to be made for this stage of the procedure. Don't chew on the affected tooth until symptoms subside and the tooth has been restored as necessary.
- Who performs root canal treatment? While all general dentists have received training in endodontic treatment and can perform most endodontic procedures, in complicated situations you may be referred to an endodontist, a specialist in root canal diagnosis and treatment.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about root canal treatment. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Common Concerns About Root Canal Treatment.”
We're always tickled to see dentists represented in popular culture, especially when portrayed by an actor as handsome as John Stamos. On the hit television show Glee, Stamos played a dentist who made sure the glee club members cleaned up their act when it came to oral hygiene — though perhaps he used a bit too much anesthesia to achieve this admirable goal. While under his care — and lots of sedation — several Glee characters had music-infused hallucinations in which they danced and sang with pop star Britney Spears.
Far-fetched? No doubt. Still, it's worth mentioning that sedation has its place in dentistry. In fact, if you are someone who tends to get anxious or even fearful about dental treatment, you should know that sedation can help you relax both mind and body so you can feel peaceful rather than anxious in the dentist's chair. And that's the whole point: Fear of pain should not stand in the way of your getting the care that will keep you healthy and allow you to keep your teeth for as long as possible.
You may not know this, but when you are afraid, your threshold for pain is actually lower. You become hypersensitive to every sensation and sound, and you tense your muscles. Fear and anxiety trigger the release of certain chemicals that put you in “fight or flight” mode. In this heightened state of alert you experience more pain during and even after treatment.
The good news is that this response can virtually be eliminated with various oral sedatives and/or with nitrous oxide, which is inhaled. Both treatments will allow you to let your guard down and relax. Your apprehension and hypersensitivity to pain will disappear, even though you are still conscious. And when you are relaxed, we are better able to focus on the task at hand, knowing that you are comfortable.
The sedatives used in dentistry have been subjected to rigorous testing and have a strong safety record backed by decades of use. Several even have “amnesic” properties, meaning that you will remember little to nothing of your treatment — unless, of course, you end up singing and dancing with Britney Spears!
If you would like more information about sedation in dentistry, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Sedation Dentistry.” Dear Doctor also has more on “Overcoming Dental Fear & Anxiety.”