If you’re old enough, you probably remember the Blue Oyster Cult song titled “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” That’s a dumb title — everyone’s scared of that dude in the black hooded cloak.
But you shouldn’t group root canals from the Gentle Dental team in there as something else to fear. Root canals are actually a lifesaver…for your tooth. We head off the Grim Reaper coming to get your tooth!
What is a root canal?
The root canal procedure actually gets its name from the “root canal,” a chamber inside the root of the tooth that is made up of the pulp chamber, the main canals, and smaller canals that branch out to connect the main root canals to one another, or to the surface of the root. These chambers are hollow spaces that run through the center of the roots and contain soft tissues including the blood vessels, nerves, and other connective tissues. These structures are known collectively as the pulp of the tooth and are important for the nourishment and sensory responses of the tooth.
Sometimes bacteria from dental decay enter the root canal, infecting its contents. Because the nerves are involved, this infection can be extremely painful. Plus, the infection endangers the health and future of the tooth. If allowed to progress, the decay will eventually require the tooth to be extracted.
That’s where a root canal from the Gentle Dental team comes to the rescue. A root canal procedure cleans out the infected root canal and fills it with a sterile alternative. Nerve endings are removed along with all the pulp. The tooth is essentially killed, leaving just a shell, to save it from further decay and future extraction.
How is it done?
We start with x-rays to determine the extent of the infection in your tooth. Once you’re numbed with a local anesthetic, we drill a hole in the top of the tooth, allowing access into the center. We remove all the decay in your tooth, including pulp, blood vessels, nerve endings, and all other cellular tissue. Next we thoroughly disinfect the entire interior of the tooth. The next step is to fill the interior with gutta percha, a sterile, rubber-like material. If the hole required to access your tooth interior was small, we may then be able to close it with a filling. If it is larger, we will place a crown atop the tooth to protect it.
A root canal can save your tooth for the rest of your life, or for a shorter period depending on your hygiene. People think the procedure is very painful, but this is a misconception. A root canal involves basically the same amount of discomfort as having a filling placed in a cavity.
If you have tooth pain, you may have an infected tooth. Call us at Gentle Dental, (732) 549-5660, and let’s take a look.