Root Canal Procedures Don't Deserve Their Bad Rap
Mention the words "root canal procedure" to most people and watch the response. They cringe. Some of us would do almost anything to avoid this procedure.
It's unclear exactly how this dental procedure came to be so dreaded, but without it, people would lose the affected teeth. It's best if your natural teeth can be saved--and a root canal procedure can usually do that in one to three office visits.1
What to Expect
What is a root canal procedure, exactly? It's a procedure in which your dentist or an endodontist removes the source of tooth pain--the inflamed pulp tissue inside canals deep in the tooth. The pulp contains the nerve to the tooth as well as the often-throbbing blood vessels. The pulp's removal leaves an empty space that is cleaned, filled with a rubbery compound, and sealed.1
The most common reasons for needing root canal procedures are:
Infection or painful inflammation from decay that is approaching or has entered the pulp inside the tooth
Tooth damage caused by trauma from an accident, fall, or sports injury
A tooth that has broken down after a lot of restorative work2
Importance of Prevention
Prevention, of course, is your best bet. Take care of your teeth--brush and floss daily, see your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings, and do your best to avoid trauma to your mouth.3
1 "Root Canal (Endodontic) Treatment." American Dental Association. http://www.ada.org/public/topics/root_canal_faq.asp. Accessed 2009.
2 "Root Canal Treatment." American Association of Endodontists. http://www.aae.org/patients/patientinfo/faqs/rootcanals.htm. Accessed 2009.
3 "Cleaning Your Teeth and Gums (Oral Hygiene)." American Dental Association. http://www.ada.org/public/topics/cleaning.asp. Accessed 2009.