Root Canal Therapy: Debunking Myths and Explaining the Procedure

Root Canal Therapy: Debunking Myths and Explaining the Procedure
Few dental procedures are as daunting as the words “root canal,” however, knowing the facts can help assuage fears surrounding root canal therapy. In this post, we’ll list a few of the common myths and their truths and offer an explanation of the root canal procedure.


Myth #1: Root Canals are Painful

The purpose of a root canal is to relieve pain, not cause it. With modern dentistry advances and the procedure performed under local anesthesia, root canals are much more comfortable than perhaps they were in the past.


Myth #2: Pulling the Tooth is Better

Your goal should be to keep as many of your natural teeth as possible. While extraction may seem like a quicker solution, it may lead to complications such as shifting of the neighboring teeth, difficulty chewing, and the need for a tooth replacement like an implant or bridge, which can be more expensive and time-consuming than a root canal.


Myth #3: The Tooth Won’t Be as Strong

While your treated tooth may become more brittle over time following a root canal, placing a crown over the tooth can help strengthen it and ensure its long-term functionality. A properly restored tooth can last a lifetime with proper care.


Myth #4: Root Canals Cause Illness

A widely debunked myth is that a root canal can lead to systemic health problems affecting the entire body. There is no scientific evidence linking a root canal to other health issues. Root canal therapy is a safe and effective dental procedure with the purpose of removing infection and preventing it from spreading.


The Root Canal Procedure

A root canal is a dental procedure designed to save a tooth that has a severely infected or damaged pulp (the innermost part of the tooth containing the nerves and blood vessels). When the pulp becomes inflamed or infected due to deep decay, a cracked tooth or trauma, it can cause intense pain and potentially lead to a dental abscess or tooth loss if left untreated. The infection could also spread to surrounding tissues and cause more severe health issues.


Step One: Diagnosis

Your dental professional will conduct a thorough examination and take X-rays to assess the issue and confirm the need for a root canal. They will then discuss the procedure with you, addressing any questions or concerns.


Step Two: Anesthesia

Once the need for a root canal is confirmed and you are in place for your procedure, your dental professional will administer a local anesthesia to ensure you are comfortable. They may place a rubber dam around the tooth to keep it dry and free from saliva, and use a disinfectant to maintain a sterile environment while working on your tooth.


Step Three: Procedure

After the tooth is numb, your dentist will create a small opening in the crown of the tooth in order to reach the infected or damaged pulp. Then the infected pulp tissue will be carefully removed, along with bacteria and any debris, and the tooth’s root canals will be cleaned and shaped to prepare them for filling.


Step Four: Filling

The root canals will be filled with a biocompatible material called gutta-percha to seal off the roots and prevent reinfection.


Step Five: Restoration

Immediately after the root canal, a temporary or permanent filling is placed to seal off the opening. In many cases, a crown is recommended to strengthen the tooth and restore its function and appearance.


Step Six: Aftercare

Following your root canal therapy, you may experience some mild discomfort or sensitivity for no more than 1-3 days. This can typically be managed with over-the-counter pain medication. Your dental professional may also recommend a round of antibiotics. If you experience severe pain or your discomfort lasts more than three days, contact your dental professional.


Since recovery is usually quick, you can brush and floss as usual, but be gentle around the treated area. And avoid chewing on hard or sticky food, or drinking anything overly cold or hot for a couple of days.


Signs You May Need a Root Canal

When a tooth becomes inflamed or infected due to deep decay, a crack or fracture, or trauma, you will feel pain or discomfort. The most common signs you may need a root canal include: severe toothache, sensitivity to hold and cold temperatures, swelling of the gums, or a pimple-like bump on the gums.


Root Canal Therapy by Advanced Family Dentistry in Reston, VA

Your dental professional should have expertise in endodontics—advanced training beyond dental school to diagnose and treat issues related to the dental pulp, nerves, blood vessels and tissues surrounding the tooth’s roots—like Dr. Sonny Kim at Advanced Family Dentistry. He and his staff have the equipment and know the techniques tailored to root canal treatments, and can handle even complex cases like those with teeth having multiple canals, curved roots or unusual anatomical variations. They are also equipped to handle emergency dental situations like severe pain, abscesses and traumatic dental injuries promptly and effectively.


Contact Advanced Family Dentistry

If you are experiencing pain and think you may need a root canal, contact Advanced Family Dentistry at 703-390-9191 to schedule a consultation.


Dr. Sonny Kim is a Diplomat of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists (ICOI), the highest education level for general dentists in this field.

Advanced Family Dentistry
Dr. Sonny Kim, DMD
11876 Sunrise Valley Dr., Suite 101
Reston, VA 20191
Phone: 703.390.9191
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