By Brock Thomas, DMD.
Often, when new patients visit my dental practice, I find they’ve been told misleading information regarding root canal therapy. Root canals have a bad reputation for two reasons. First of all, patients who have been dealing with a tooth infection have toxins building up in a that area. This makes numbing the infected tooth more difficult. Obviously, being numb for any procedure is important, so in my dental practice I will often prescribe antibiotics for a few days prior to a root canal procedure in order to calm down the area that will be treated. This allows the patient some relief so that at the time of the appointment I am able to numb the patient’s tooth without discomfort. At our dental office we can also use sedation or sleep dentistry to help patients with any residual discomfort prior to the numbing process.
The second reason why root canal therapy causes concern for patients has to do with the fact that in the past, root canals were sometimes unsuccessful and the patient needed to have the tooth removed. This lead some patients to form the opinion that root canals amounted to a big waste of money.
While tooth removal can sometimes still happen despite the best of care, in my dental practice I have learned to avoid this problem more often through careful assessment of a patient’s tooth to look for fractured areas. This is important because a tooth with an up and down fracture that goes below the gum is doomed, and no amount of root canal therapy will help.
In the past, dentists practiced “herodontics” (they thought, “I can save this tooth”). This was because dentistry did not yet have a good alternative to replacing teeth, so often dentists would recommend a root canal to try to save the tooth.
Now, with the advent of dental implants, all that has changed. When I see a tooth with a questionable outcome, I will recommend removal and dental implant placement to a patient as the best viable option. I will recommend performing root canal therapy only for teeth that I feel confident can be saved.
Please visit our Root Canal page to understand more about this dental treatment. And if you are experiencing dental pain, please contact our dentist office and make an appointment soon!