3 Reasons Why Root Canals Are Easier Than They Used To Be

Dentist Articles

If your dentist has just told you that you need to see an endodontist for a root canal, it's only natural that you might feel nervous. How many times have you heard some friend or relative's story of the pain and agony of a root canal procedure? However, don't let that stop you from making your own root canal appointment. If you really think about it, you'll probably realize that most of the root canal horror stories you've heard about took place years in the past. The reason that there aren't as many new root canal scare stories is that the procedure has gotten much easier and less painful than it used to be, thanks to various advancements and new technologies in the dental care field. Take a look into three things that are changing the reputation of the root canal by making the process safer, easier, and less painful.

New Anesthetics

Dentists have many more anesthetic options at their disposal than they did in years past. Typically, root canals are performed with a local anesthetic, administered through a needle. The anesthetic – usually lidocaine, a more effective alternative to Novocain – numbs your tooth and the area around your tooth, so you won't feel a thing during the treatment.

However, sometimes local anesthetic just isn't enough. If you're the type of patient that's nervous or anxious about dental procedures, particularly root canals, or needles, you may need something to help you stay relaxed during the procedure. Many dentists now offer something known as twilight sedation for patients who are particular anxious or fearful. Twilight sedation involves one or a few sedatives administered orally. The medication puts you into a state that isn't quite sleep, but isn't quite waking, either. You'll be able to answer questions and respond to commands while you're sedated, but you won't feel pain or remember the procedure later. This allows many patients to experience completely pain-free root canals.

Nickel Titanium Files

An important aspect of a root canal is clearing the affected tooth of the infection that's causing the damage to the tooth. Infection is the primary cause of pain in a tooth that needs a root canal, not the root canal itself. In the past, dentists used stainless steel files to clear out the infection from the tooth. However, the stainless steel had limited flexibility and was prone to breakage, limiting the dentist's ability to completely remove the infected tissue from the tooth. Pain after a root canal was often caused by infected matter remaining in the tooth.

Today's endodontists use nickel titanium files that are considerably more flexible and less apt to break than the stainless steel. Because of these new files, endodontists can more easily remove all of the infected tissue from the tooth, resulting in a lower likelihood of pain in the days following the root canal procedure. With the infection gone, there will be nothing left in the tooth to cause it to hurt. You'll feel some residual soreness from the procedure, but nothing compared to the pain of an active tooth infection.

High Tech Apex Locators

When working with an infected tooth during a root canal, your endodontist has to stay within a certain area inside the tooth. As you can imagine, that can be difficult to do – a tooth isn't that big to begin with, and the dentist can't let their tools stray outside certain parameters.

New digital apex locators are meant for one thing – to tell the dentist exactly where the root canal space ends so that they don't go beyond that and cause damage to the rest of the tooth. By using these machines, endodontists have eliminated most of the imprecision that used to cause discomfort for root canal patients.

Understanding how root canals have advanced in recent years can help set your mind at ease about scheduling your own root canal. If you're still feeling nervous, consider meeting with your endodontist before your procedure to ask questions about pain management during and after the procedure. You'll feel better just knowing that the dentist cares enough to take the time to try to alleviate your anxiety about the root canal.

For more information, contact a local endodontist, like John P Poovey DMD PC


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