Experiencing feelings of fear when visiting the dentist is entirely normal, so it’s understandable that learning that you need a root canal can be even more anxiety-provoking. However, root canals are more common than you think. In fact, over 14 million root canals are performed annually in the United States. A root canal treatment is both necessary and beneficial to you and, therefore, nothing to fear!
What Is a Root Canal?
So, first things first, what is a root canal? A dentist or endodontist will authorize a root canal when they spot any bacterial infection inside a tooth’s pulp that may be causing you pain. The procedure itself is simple. According to the American Association of Endodontists, a root canal procedure involves removing the inflamed or infected pulp, cleaning and disinfecting the inside of the tooth, and finally, refilling and sealing. Eliminating bacteria from an infected root canal relieves pain and saves the natural tooth.
If you’re wondering whether you need to schedule a visit to your dentist, keep an eye out for these signs you may need a root canal:
- A general feeling of intense pain while chewing or biting
- Ongoing sensitivity to both hot and cold objects
- Swelling or overall tender feelings on the gums
- Pimples on and around the gums
What Happens During a Root Canal Procedure?
Knowing what to expect during a root canal can help ease nerves. Let’s review the steps of a root canal treatment:
- Preparing for treatment: To prepare for your procedure, your dentist will start by taking x-rays of your mouth to assess the damage. Like most other dental procedures, you can expect to receive anesthesia to numb the pain.
- Clearing the pulp: Once the area is cleaned and prepped, it’s time to remove the decay. After creating an opening through the tooth’s crown, your dentist or endodontist will use small dental instruments to remove the infected pulp. After the infection is removed, the canals are flushed and cleaned to prepare for the next step.
- Filling the canals: A temporary filling is placed in the crown after thoroughly cleaning and drying the canals. This prevents any debris or saliva from entering the tooth.
- Placing the crown: Finally, to help protect the tooth from any future damage, a crown is placed over the tooth. Crowns are predominately made of gold, porcelain, or porcelain fused to metal.
Why Is a Root Canal Done?
Avoiding a root canal procedure can not only cause you immense pain but can ultimately be detrimental to your long-term oral health. If left untreated, you run the risk of losing your tooth. If the infection spreads further, it’s possible to lose parts of your jaw. In addition, according to The Wilkinson Dental blog, “An untreated root canal can also lead to dental abscesses or a life-threatening heart attack, stroke, or sepsis.”
These consequences are why it’s essential to see your dentist bi-annually to prevent and treat oral infections.
To find out if your HDS plan covers root canal procedures, visit our HDS Member Portal.