A root canal refers to the process of removing the nerve inside a tooth that runs through each of it’s roots. This is done by making a small hole in the top of the tooth, and using small files to remove the nerve. A sealing material is then placed inside the root to prevent any bacteria from entering inside.
The words root canal are frightening to many people, but technology has improved the procedure drastically. Rotary machines have replaced much of the work that used to be done by hand. In our office, a majority of root canals can be completed in a one to two hour visit, with some exceptions. Some teeth may require the attention of a specialist, and Dr. Hunsicker has a close working relationship with several of the area root canal specialists, which are called endodontists.
Most insurance companies cover this procedure at a fairly high rate as well, so don’t let the words root canal scare you from saving a tooth you don’t want to loose. In general terms, it is always better to save the teeth you have rather than replacing them with something else.
Why would I need a root canal?
There are three common reasons for which a root canal might be recommended.
One is when the nerve of the tooth dies. When the nerve in the tooth dies, it posses a risk for infection and a potential abscess. It is often painful and becomes difficult to chew due to the sensitivity and pain. A root canal can remove the dead nerve inside, and save a tooth that otherwise would have needed to be extracted.
Another instance when a root canal may be necessary is when the nerve gets inflamed. This often times presents as extreme sensitivity to cold, and sometimes sweets. When the inflammation gets to be so great that nothing will bring it down, then removing the nerve through a root canal is the only option for saving the tooth.
The third common reason for a root canal is when a tooth is cracked, and the crack goes into the nerve chamber of the tooth. This often presents as pain while chewing, and the tooth being sensitive to extreme temperatures.
There are other reasons a root canal might be recommended too, such as a tooth needing more support for a post to be placed down into the root, or a process called internal resorption which can destroy the tooth from the inside out. No matter the reason, it is important to ask questions until you fully understand why the procedure is needed, and what to expect as the outcome.