Many dental patients are terrified of root canals. The procedure has such a bad rap, in fact, that patients frequently consider forgoing a root canal altogether, opting to “ride out” the pain they’re already in and taking a chance on losing the affected tooth altogether.
We’re here to bust the myth that root canals cause pain. In reality, nothing is farther from the truth.
Signs you may need a root canal
If you get regular dental checkups, root canals can often be avoided entirely. That’s because root canals are generally used to repair severely decayed teeth, and regular checkups typically catch cavities before they become major problems.
Still, life gets busy and many of us don’t exactly consider dentist visits a fun way to spend our time. So we procrastinate, delay, and tell ourselves all is well. Until, one day, you find yourself in major pain as you bite into your morning bagel. A great majority of the time, severe tooth pain is the first indicator that you have a serious dental problem on your hands – one that may quite possibly require a root canal.
In addition to significant tooth pain, other signs you may need a root canal include:
- Hot or cold sensitivity and a tooth ache that doesn’t go away even after you remove the hot/cold food or beverage from your mouth
- A bump on your gumline near the problem tooth
- A dark discoloration of the tooth that indicates severe decay
- Swollen, tender gums around the affected tooth
The root of the pain
Severe tooth decay often lies at the root of the problem. Unattended cavities grow over time and the unchecked growth of bacteria can eventually spread infection to the pulp of the tooth root. The roots of your teeth contain very sensitive nerves that recognize excessively hot or cold foods and drinks. It’s nature’s way to keep you from chewing frozen turkey legs and washing it down with boiling coffee.
When the root of a tooth becomes infected, those same nerves signal severe pain and work overtime to let you know, “Hey buddy, we got a big problem here. It’s past time to see the dentist!”
Your eyes may water from the pain, you can’t get a wink of sleep, and still…you’ve heard so many horror stories about root canals over the years that you’d rather deal with the pain than enter the dentist’s torture chamber.
Except, leaving an infection untreated can be very dangerous, as it can spread to other parts of your body, including your brain.
Also, remember those pesky nerves inside the root of your tooth? They won’t leave you alone anytime soon, and addressing the issue sooner rather than later can keep you from climbing the walls thanks to all that pain.
And here is the best part – a root canal doesn’t hurt; only a tooth that needs one does.
Our creed: No pain, no fear
Dentistry has come a long way since the days of downing half a bottle of whiskey before the local barber takes a rusty set of pliers to your teeth. At Grand Parkway Smiles we offer a full range of sedation options to ensure your root canal procedure doesn’t cause you any discomfort at all.
In most cases, local anesthesia is enough to numb the bad tooth sufficiently so the dentist can work on it without causing you pain. At Grand Parkway Smiles we understand, however, that the very idea of merely touching an area that already hurts so badly can cause our patients great anxiety, much less prodding it with a bunch of power tools. After all, you wouldn’t rub a scraped knee with sandpaper, either.
In an effort to ease our patients’ anxiety and eliminate practically any discomfort whatsoever, we present you with a variety of sedation options that go beyond local anesthesia:
- Laughing gas: A mild form of sedation, nitrous oxide helps you relax by making you feel a bit light-headed and happy. You may even get a case of the giggles (hence the name).
- Oral sedation: This is the stuff funny YouTube videos are made of! Oral sedation involves a carefully assembled cocktail of tablets you ingest an hour or two prior to the root canal work. The medication leaves you in a state of semi-consciousness and able to follow simple commands. Most patients report they have no memory whatsoever of the procedure afterward, but friends and family members frequently recall outrageously funny things you may be saying. You will need someone to give you a ride to and from the dentist’s office because you’ll be in no state to operate a vehicle safely for a few hours.
- General anesthesia: If you suffer from extreme dentist phobia, this may be the sedation option of choice for you. Routinely used in hospitals for surgical procedures, general anesthesia essentially “puts you to sleep.” You will be completely unconscious for the entire procedure and unable to hear, see, feel a thing. Once again, this type of sedation requires you to arrange transportation home after your dentist visit because you’ll be unable to drive until the anesthesia wears off completely.
Talk to your Grand Parkway Smiles Dentist about sedation and discuss what type may be right for you.