When the average person hears the term “root canal,” they cringe. Root canals have an overly large association with pain, but it’s not actually the procedure that causes the pain — it’s the decay, infection, and/or dying nerve that precedes it that sends you running to the dentist.
At Riverdale Dental Arts, Dr. Sheldon Kupferman and his staff regularly perform root canal procedures for their patients in the Bronx, New York. But they also regularly hear those patients’ misperceptions of the process, which is why they want to present some encouraging facts about root canals so you can have a more accurate picture.
Your teeth have a number of different parts, all of which are important to their function. The outer part that sits above the gum line is called the crown, and it’s covered by a hard enamel shell. The tooth root sits below the gum line, and it’s covered by cementum, another hard substance. The important parts are what lie underneath the coverings.
Under the enamel lies the pulp chamber, a soft area containing connective tissue, blood vessels, and the highly sensitive nerve. Inside the root, the structure that anchors the tooth in the jawbone, are canals; there can be anywhere from 1-3, depending on the tooth. The canals extend from the root tip in the bone up into the pulp chamber above the gum.
The enamel usually protects the pulp well, but if it develops cracks or chips, bacteria can enter the inner chamber, causing decay or infection in the tissue and irritating or inflaming the nerve. One type of infection from the multiplying bacteria is an abscess, a pus-filled pocket located at the end of the root. It can cause:
Removing a dying or dead nerve during a root canal procedure won’t impair your tooth’s function. However, the tooth becomes weaker and more prone to chips and cracks, which is why most dentists place a dental crown on top of the tooth to provide additional support.
Though people dread the term “root canal,” the procedure is actually one of the most beneficial things you can do for a seriously decayed or infected tooth with a dying nerve. Here are five reasons why.
As we mentioned earlier, a lot of people believe that a root canal procedure is exceedingly painful, but that’s simply not true. The pain comes before the procedure, from the irritated or dying nerve. By removing the nerve from the tooth, Dr. Kupferman removes the source of the pain. And, don’t worry, he numbs your mouth well before he starts working, so you might feel some pressure during the procedure, but you won’t feel pain.
Your tooth root does more than just hold the tooth in its proper position; it also stimulates the turnover of bone tissue in the jaw. If Dr. Kupferman just extracted the painful tooth, you’d have a gap that doesn’t stimulate bone tissue. By performing a root canal, he preserves your natural root, and your jawbone remains healthy.
By removing any infected pulp and nerve, as well as draining any abscesses, a root canal ensures the infection doesn’t spread to other tissues, including your jawbone.
Because Dr. Kupferman removes the tooth’s nerve, the tooth won’t be able to sense anything, especially pain. That means if the area needs further dental work, you’ll need less anesthetic — or maybe none at all.
The final step in the root canal procedure is topping the root with an artificial tooth, whether that be a crown, a dental bridge, or a partial denture. That means your smile will look totally natural, and no one will know you’ve had work done.
If you’d like to learn more about how root canals can improve your oral health, or if you need any other dental services, contact Riverdale Dental Arts by calling the office at 845-479-6927, or book an appointment online with us today.