When most people hear the term “root canal,” they shudder in horror. That’s because root canals have a large association with pain. However, it’s not the procedure you go for that causes the pain — it’s the decay, infection, and/or dying nerve that sends you running to the dentist in the first place.
At Riverdale Dental Arts in the Bronx, New York, Dr. Sheldon Kupferman and his staff perform root canal procedures for their patients who need them. Understandably, many of those patients are nervous or hesitant about the procedure. That’s why the team has put together this guide to root canals and root canal procedures, so you’ll understand you have nothing to be nervous about.
Your teeth have a number of different parts, all of which serve important functions. The outer part above the gum line is the crown, and it’s covered by a hard enamel shell. The tooth root below the gum line is covered by cementum, another hard substance. For root canals, though, what’s important is what lies beneath the coverings.
Under the enamel sits the pulp chamber, an area containing connective tissue, blood vessels, and the highly sensitive nerve. Inside the root, which anchors the tooth in the jawbone, are canals; there are 1-3, depending on the tooth. The canals extend from the root tip in the jaw up into the pulp chamber.
The enamel usually protects the pulp well. However, it can develop cracks or chips that allow bacteria to enter the inner chamber. This can cause decay or infection in the tissue, irritating or inflaming the nerve.
If Dr. Kupferman removes a dead or dying nerve during a root canal procedure, it won’t impair your tooth’s function. However, the tooth structure becomes weaker and more prone to cracks and chips. That’s why most dentists put a dental crown on top of the remaining root structure, to provide additional support.
You may be nervous about your root canal because of its associated pain, but the procedure is one of the most beneficial things you can do for a seriously decayed or infected tooth with a dying nerve, and it really won’t hurt a bit. Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t worry.
The pain associated with a root canal actually comes before the procedure, as the nerve becomes inflamed or starts to die. This is the pain that led to your appointment. By removing the affected nerve, Dr. Kupferman removes the source of the pain.
For the procedure itself, Dr. Kupferman numbs your mouth fully, so you may feel pressure as he works, but you won’t feel pain. When the anesthetic wears off, you’ll be pain-free.
Your tooth root does a lot more than hold the tooth in its proper position; it also stimulates the regeneration of bone tissue in the jaw. If Dr. Kupferman simply extracted your painful tooth, you’d have a gap that wouldn’t stimulate the jaw and would allow other teeth to drift out of their positions. The root canal preserves your natural root, and your jawbone remains healthy.
Dr. Kupferman removes any infected pulp and nerve from your tooth, as well as draining any abscesses (pus-filled pockets at the root tip). The root canal procedure ensures the infection doesn’t spread beyond the tooth itself.
With the tooth’s nerve removed, the root won’t be able to sense anything, especially pain. That means if you need further work in that area, you’ll need less anesthetic — or maybe none at all.
As we mentioned, Dr. Kupferman may top the tooth root with a dental crown, but he might also choose a dental bridge or a partial denture. All of them make your smile look totally natural, and no one will know you’ve had work done.
To learn more about how root canals can improve your oral health, or if you’re looking for any other dental services, contact Riverdale Dental Arts by calling the office at 845-479-6927, or book an appointment online with us today.