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30 Mar 2022

9 Facts You May Not Know About Root Canals

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Say the words ‘root canal’ to many people and it’ll bring fear to their eyes. There are lots of unfounded myths that exist about root canal treatments, many of which can make people run a mile from a necessary procedure that could dramatically improve their oral health.

if you’ve got toothache caused by an infected root canal, it’s important to get treatment quickly, before it gets worse!

So, what do you need to know about the treatment before you book in for it?

Here are nine eye-opening  facts that you may not already know about root canals.

1. Every Tooth Has At Least One Root Canal

While ‘root canal’ is the name of a treatment, the term actually refers to a specific part of a tooth. Under the surface of every tooth there is the root structure. The roots serve to anchor the tooth into the jaw, giving it the necessary strength and stability to bite or chew.

Inside each tooth, there is a pulp chamber, these descend into the root canals.

Each root canal contains dental pulp. This is a combination of blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissues. The pulp is there to keep your tooth healthy, create dentin, and send information to the brain about temperature, pressure, and pain.

The number of canals varies depending on the type of tooth. For example, your canines and incisors at the front are used for biting and will usually have one root canal, while your molars at the back are used for chewing and can have up to four canals.

2. Root Canal Treatments Remove Infected Pulp

When tooth decay occurs, it breaks down the outer layers of enamel and dentin causing small holes. These holes expose the pulp to bacteria that wouldn’t usually be able to penetrate so deep. This can cause the pulp to become infected.

If you have infected dental pulp, it can cause a lot of discomfort. A root canal treatment will be necessary to remove this infected pulp before it spreads further and causes more damage.

3. Root Canal Treatments Have Been Performed Since 1838

While they didn’t quite understand the science behind it, the Romans knew that an infected tooth must be drained to prevent further damage. A tooth with a bronze wire inside was found in Israel dating back more than 2,000 years, demonstrating an early example of a root canal procedure.

As advanced as the ancient Romans were,  it wasn’t until 1728, that we even knew that pulp existed in teeth.

In his book “Le Chirurgien Dentiste” Pierre Fauchard identifies the existence of pulp in each root, however, it would be more than a century before anybody perfected anything close to the modern root canal treatment.

An American dentist called Edwin Maynard was the first to perform a root canal treatment in 1838. He did this using a tool made from a watch spring. 

A few years later, dentists started using a material called gutta percha. This is still used today to fill root canals. In 1900, the arrival of x-ray machines made it easier for dentists to spot infections.

Since then, the area of dentistry that focuses on root canals and dental pulp has developed and a specialist in this field is now known as an endodontist.

4. There’s No Need to Fear a Root Canal Treatment

Pain and discomfort are often associated with root canal treatments, however, modern dentistry makes light work of removing infected pulp. With great technology and anaesthetics at our disposal, the entire process and recovery is usually relatively pain-free.

5. Root Canal Treatments Save Teeth

When left untreated, the infection in your dental pulp will spread. In most cases, this will ultimately lead to you losing the affected tooth.

Provided we get to see your tooth before the infection has spread, using aroot canal treatment, we’ll be able to prevent the need for extraction.

6. They’re Designed to Stop Pain – Not Cause It

Usually, the first warning signs that your dental pulp is infected is considerable pain. This may also make your tooth very sensitive to certain temperatures and pressure. While painkillers may take the edge off the pain, you’ll need root canal treatment to actually stop it.

Often, there is a confusion with the pain associated with the infection, and many people false attribute this to the procedure. We use anaethesia to make sure you’re completely comfortable during the treatment. Once your anaethseia starts to wear off, you’ll feel a difference as the pain associated with the infection will start to fade away.

7. Root Canal Treatments Are Safe

Gone are the days when dentists use watch springs to remove infected dental pulp, today, we’re well equipped to do the job safely. Root canal treatments have a very high success rate, and as long as they’re carried out early enough, the risk of further infection is reduced.

8.  Root Canals Don’t Require Lots of Appointments

If you’re worried that you’ll need your root canal over several appointments, don’t panic. Often, we can carry out the treatment in one or two appointments. 

Usually, the treatment itself will be done in one appointment, while any restoration work will be carried out soon after.

9.  A Crown Can Be Placed Later to Protect Your Tooth

Once a root canal has been carried out, the hole in your tooth will need to be filled. This will usually be done using a filling. As your tooth may now be weaker than it once was, it’s important protect it from further damage. The best way to do this is by placing a crown over it.

Crowns are durable and can be colour-matched to your teeth so they appear completely natural. 

Don’t Put Off Root Canal Treatment

If you’re in pain and discomfort caused by infected pulp, a root canal will help save your tooth. Don’t delay booking your appointment.

Get in touch with our helpful team at any of our clinics across Surrey, and we’ll schedule a consultation at the earliest opportunity.

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