How scared are you of root canals? What if we tell you... You no longer need to be?

Root canals are easily one of the most dreaded treatments in the world. I have seen patients compare the anxiety they feel before a root canal to things like open heart surgery and labour. The last thing you want to hear on a dental chair is the diagnosis that you need a root canal. The horror stories surrounding this dental treatment range from gruesome to excruciating.

This article is an attempt to dispel the mystery and pain associated with root canals and show you how far we have come from the horrors to the sophistication of the latest technology.

From Painful to Pleasing

What are root canals really ?

In its simplest sense a root canal is a deep filling done by cleaning the infection from the third and innermost layer of the tooth which is made up of nerves and blood vessels

Our tooth is made up of 3 layers –the first 2 are hard and confined layers called enamel and dentin –when decay affects these it is very slow to spread and easy to remove and fill within one short session.

The third layer may take 1-3 sessions to clean as the infection may have spread or collected in the supporting tooth structures.

Why are root canals considered painful?

The 3rd layer of our tooth is a nerve chamber containing soft nerves and blood vessels in communication with the rest of our body.

This is the place that communicates pain to our brain and this is why when decay or bacteria hit this soft deeper layer we experience sharp shooting pain.

Top 3 reasons why root canals used to be painful

  1. Improper or inadequate anesthesia to numb the inflamed nerve
  2. Mechanical instrumentation –to manually pull out the nerve which we now dissolve and clean with automated machines
  3. Lack of the right medications to use –within the tooth.

What happens to root canal infections if left untreated ?

If this pain is suppressed with medication and not treated it can lead to an infection spreading within the bone which may later lead to a swelling with pus etc.

If this infection is left within it can eat into the supporting bone and eventually infect or affect the adjacent teeth as well.