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Everyone has heard of root canal treatment, and pretty much everyone seems to be terrified of it. However, this is a classic example of myth becoming reality in most people’s minds. The fact is that a root canal procedure is nothing to be afraid of and is not even painful, contrary to what others may tell you.
So, how exactly did this myth come about? The likelihood is that it stems from the days when dental technology was not as efficient as it now is, and it would have been very difficult indeed to detect an abscess lodged deep within a tooth. For this reason, it is fairly certain that many root canal treatments were carried out that hit that abscess which would cause quite an incredible pain; no wonder people fear it.
These days however, this simply would not happen. Modern x-rays will always detect any signs of an abscess and there is not a qualified dentist in the world who would dream of performing a root canal when an abscess is present. Instead, antibiotics are now issued to treat the abscess first, and only when the Endodontist (a specialist in soft pulp material), is certain that the abscess is no longer present, will the root canal procedure take place.
So, what does the procedure actually entail? Well, although, through Chinese whispers, many people believe a root canal digs down deep into the gums, this is simply fiction.
Prior to the root canal treatment, the area in which it will be performed is numbed using a local anaesthetic. Once this has taken effect, the top of the tooth will be removed and the soft inner of the tooth, containing blood vessels and nerves is removed by a specialist suction tool. The remnants are then cleaned from inside the tooth and an antibiotic sprayed into it to ensue that any remaining infection is killed off.
Once this has been fully cleaned, a specialist filling is placed into the cavity and the tooth is sealed again. Depending on the situation, this may be sealed using a crown, or in some cases, it is temporarily filled if the dentist wants to check on it a little later before a crown is attached.
Once this procedure is complete, the patient is left in effect with a ‘dead’ tooth which has the natural enamel of the original tooth but has no feelings as the nerves have been removed. This does mean that the tooth can’t suffer from decay any more; however, the surrounding gums are still susceptible to infection and disease so it is important to ensure that a good oral health regime is still followed on a daily basis.
Provided that you find a good dentist who has a qualified Endodontist on his staff, you should have no problem with your root canal and will be able to dispel the myth once and for all for your friends and family.
* This article has been submitted by Tom Phoenix on behalf of the Ealing Dental Practice.