What is a Root Canal?

Root canals have a bad reputation for being scary and painful. I am here today to tell you quite the opposite. Root canals seem scary at first, but have many advantages to getting them done. Understanding what a root canal is, knowing the advantages of having it done, and learning about the signs and symptoms are all proactive measures you can take to feeling more comfortable with the procedure or considering it as a option if needed. As always, be sure to consult with your dentist about the procedure after you learn more here!


The first question many ask is, what is a root canal anyways? A root canal is a small procedure that your endodontist will perform to help save your teeth from decay and help remove any pain and discomfort you may be feeling during the decaying process. During a root canal procedure, the nerve in your tooth will be gently removed and the inside of your tooth will be thoroughly cleaned and then sealed for protection.  So instead of waiting longer and sitting in pain, a root canal can help to save your teeth and prevent it from going to extreme measures of complete removal- which in the end will be more costly.


“Don’t I need the nerve in my tooth in order for everything to function properly?” is another common question that a lot of patients become hesitant about. In reality, the nerve within your tooth is not vitally important for your oral health nor will it impair function because your teeth have already gone through its growing stages.  It is simply there to distinguish between the hot and cold items that you digest. By having the root removed from inside a decaying tooth, you reduce the amount of pain and discomfort that you have been experiencing, all while saving the entire tooth from having to be removed.


What are the signs and symptoms that a root canal is needed? Root canals are usually suggested to patients who have an inflamed pulp- the soft tissue inside your tooth, an infection within the tooth as a result of injury, deep decay, a crack, or a chipped tooth. Patients who also have repeated dental procedures on one specific tooth due to infection may be considered as a candidate for a root canal to help preserve the tooth. Most patients will have experienced a severe toothache while chewing or from any pressure applied to the tooth, a prolonged sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, swelling and tenderness of the gums and tooth area, pimpling on the gums, and or a dark discoloration on the tooth area. If you are currently experiencing any of the above, make an appointment to speak with your dentist to discuss possible damage and find a solution that works for you.


How can you avoid getting a root canal? It is as simple as taking care of your teeth on a daily basis. Brushing at least two times per day and making sure you are cleaning your gums will keep your teeth from decaying and removes harsh plaque on the surface. The most important step is to floss. Flossing removes all the food particles from between your teeth that would just sit there and rot, causing the tooth decay. Take the five minutes twice daily to properly floss and brush your pearly whites to keep them in place and healthy.


Now that you know what a root canal is and how it occurs you can take the healthy steps towards avoiding them by daily cleansing methods. Though it may not be an ideal situation, it is a safe, pain free method of saving your teeth and keeping up with your oral health. Always talk to your dentist about your oral health and discuss procedure options in advance so that you are comfortable.


Robert D. Woods, DDS

4190 Old Milton Pkwy #2G
Alpharetta, GA 30005

Phone: (770) 551-0808
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