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A dentist looking at a dental x-ray for a root canal treatment

Root Canal Treatments: They’re Not as Bad as You Think

Root canal treatments get a bad reputation as one of the worst, most painful dental procedures out there. The truth is, they’re not as bad as they sound! Treatments from days long passed have given rise to some bad expectations, but like any other industry, dentistry has evolved to suit the people it serves. So, endodontic treatments have too.

If you have a tooth infection, damaged pulp inside your tooth, or even genetic predispositions to tooth decay, a root canal means the difference between keeping that tooth and having it removed and gone forever. It’s a revolutionary treatment, and if you head to the right dentist, the procedure won’t put too much of a dent in your stride.

Whether your dentist has told you a root canal is in your near future, or you’re just curious about the process, we’re here to break it down for you. Read on to learn everything you ever need to know about root canal treatments.

What is a root canal treatment?

Cross-section diagram of a tooth
Source: The Encyclopaedia Brittanica, Inc. 2013

The technical name for a root canal treatment is an “endodontic” treatment, which roughly translates to “inside the tooth”. It’s from inside the tooth that the need for a root canal comes, and it’s into the tooth your dentist will go to take care of it.

Let’s start off with some quick anatomy. The tooth has an outer enamel shell (that’s the part you can see), beneath which lies a hard layer of something called dentin. Underneath that is your tooth’s pulp, which is a soft core containing all the blood vessels the feed the tooth as well as the tooth’s nerve.

If the pulp is damaged, it causes all sorts of problems:

  • Infections in the tooth, leading to abscesses (pockets of infection) spreading through the gum.
  • Painful swelling around the tooth, and if left untreated, this can progress to other areas of the face and head.
  • Jawbone loss around the root caused by untreated infection.
  • Intense pain while chewing, speaking, and breathing.

In other words, a damaged pulp it’s not a lot of fun. That’s where the root canal treatment comes in.

What do we do during a root canal treatment?

The purpose of an endodontic treatment is to remove damaged or infected tooth pulp and seal off the inside of the tooth. Not only does this stop any infection from spreading, it also preserves your natural tooth for better chewing.

Throughout the entire process, we at Confidental are extremely gentle, ensuring you’re not experience any undue pain or discomfort. After all, we’re known for being one of the best gentle dentists Auckland wide!

The Root Canal Procedure

  1. First, we take an x-ray to understand what your root canals look like, to check for any signs of spreading infection, and to check if your tooth’s nerve is still alive.
  2. Once we know what we’re headed into, we’ll anaesthetise the area and place something called a rubber dam down around the tooth. This is to keep saliva away from where we’re working, which helps us do a better job.
  3. Next, we drill a hole into the tooth to get access to the pulp. This might sound scary, but thanks to anaesthesia and modern drilling techniques, this part isn’t any more painful than getting a filling.
  4. Once we’re inside, we use a series of tools called root canal files to remove damaged pulp, bacteria, and any decayed nerve tissue out, leaving a hollowed tooth. Then, we flush it out with sodium hypochlorite (a disinfectant) for good measure.
  5. Finally, we seal the tooth. This is either done on the same day or a few days later, depending on whether the medicine needs to sit inside the tooth for a while to clear out the infection.

Once this is all done, you’ll be left with a sealed tooth that will serve you just as well as all your other ones. While there won’t be any pulp left on the inside, your gums will work to nourish the tooth from the outside, so there’s no need to remove and replace it with an artificial tooth. We do recommend, however, getting it fitted with a dental crown to help strengthen the tooth and improve its health for the long-term.

So, even though older root canal procedures give modern ones a bad reputation, it’s always better to get one done if you’re in need.

Think you might need a root canal treatment? We’ve got your back.

Reach out to Confidental Advanced Dentistry, one of the most affordable and gentle dentists in Auckland, for the full range of our dental services. When you get in touch, we’ll set up a dental consultation with you to understand what your oral health needs are, then we’ll get to work restoring your smile! Be confident when you smile. Get in touch with us today!