Root Canals — the Unappreciated Tooth Saver
- Posted on: Apr 15 2019
“Your mother-in-law is going to move in with us.”
“Our flight will be a little bit delayed.”
“The boss wants to see you, in private.”
Or “You need to have a root canal.”
Since we’re in California, people may instantly bring to mind the torture scene from Marathon Man, where the Nazi doctor, Lawrence Olivier, thinks innocent Dustin Hoffman has information he wants and he uses a dental drill to get what he wants.
Truth is not stranger than fiction, but it’s a heck of a lot less painful. Root canals with Dr. Fong really don’t hurt any more than having a typical filling placed.
It’s true. People associate the pain that is creating the need for the root canal with the root canal procedure. The root canal will actually remove the pain your infected tooth is causing. And it will allow you to save the tooth.
In L.A.-speak — Root canals need a new publicist.
When does a tooth need a root canal?
When a tooth has suffered extreme trauma (like in a sports collision) or when decay has reached the interior pulp of the tooth the pulp becomes infected or dies. This increases blood flow to the area and pressure builds inside the tooth causing pain. This pain is especially evident when drinking or eating hot or cold foods or beverages or when chewing. The pain can be pretty intense because the nerves inside the tooth are being affected. At this point, the only way to remove the infected pulp and save the tooth from extraction is for Dr. Fong to perform a root canal.
What is a root canal?
A root canal removes all the infected and dead pulp in the canal that runs down through the tooth root. When a tooth is healthy this canal or canals are the life support system of the tooth. But once the pulp becomes infected it all needs to be removed. Once this is done the empty canal is then filled with gutta percha, a rubberlike material they used to use to make golf balls, and the tooth is sealed with a filling, or more likely if the tooth involved is a molar, a crown.
When the tooth is empty, it no longer has any nerve sensations, so it can’t cause any more pain. That’s what’s ironic — the nerves inside the tooth are all removed in a root canal, so the tooth is no longer able to be painful. Sure, there can be some soreness from having your mouth open during the procedure, and the tissue surrounding the tooth could have become somewhat inflamed and will need a day or two to settle down. But this pain is nothing compared to the infected nerves going berserk.
Plus, the root canal enables the patient to keep the tooth. People wonder how this is possible since the tooth will be empty. But teeth only need blood and other tissue inside when they are growing. Once a tooth has finished growing, it can remain in the jaw for decades without any nerves or blood vessels.
Do you have a tooth that is very sensitive to hot and cold? Decay could have entered the pulp, and you could need a root canal to save your tooth. Call Dr. Fong at (714) 549-1903 to make an appointment.
Posted in: General Dentistry