At the very mention of a root canal, many people panic. For decades, root canals have had a reputation of being painful, intensive, and terrifying, despite the fact that they’re actually made to alleviate pain. Thankfully, root canals don’t have to be painful, and, in cases of severe nerve damage, they can make the difference between losing a tooth and keeping it. With IV sedation and the help of an endodontist, a root canal can be performed quickly and painlessly, helping you keep your teeth in the process.
What Is a Root Canal?
A root canal is a treatment that’s designed to save a tooth from becoming so damaged it has to be removed. The way it works is this: a dentist takes out dead or dying nerve tissues and bacteria from inside a tooth that’s been deeply infected either by a tooth crack, cavity, or some kind of injury, with damage all the way down to the nerves at the root. After removing those nerve tissues, the dentist then cleans and seals the tooth for protection.
Fear of Root Canals
When it comes to dreaded dental treatments, nothing seems to be more feared than the root canal. Horror stories about root canals are everywhere, filled with descriptions of major pain and discomfort. In one study, 35% of respondents anticipated root canal treatment to be the most unpleasant dental procedure, even more so than oral surgery; however, the same study showed that while fear is common in new patients, those who have already experienced a root canal are much less anxious. That’s because the good news is a root canal doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, when done properly and efficiently, it can be an easy experience—one that eliminates the pain and swelling associated with damaged nerves in an infected tooth. In a study of 176 patients who received root canals, over half experienced absolutely no pain at all. Another study showed the likelihood of persistent pain after root canal treatment was only around 5.3%.
Ways to Eliminate Root Canal Anxiety
Clear communication, anesthesia, and other tools can be used to significantly reduce dental anxiety and make the procedure more comfortable. As is the case with many phobias, understanding what to expect makes a big difference, as it relieves the fear of the unknown. There have even been studies that suggest certain external factors—such as listening to relaxing music through headphones—can make the root canal treatment less frightening and increase patient comfort with the experience.
Mostly though, IV sedation can revolutionize the root canal experience. It makes the time pass quickly and painlessly. Patients rest safely while their mouths are restored to a healthy state, and, best of all, root canals provide a way to keep your natural teeth, which is always the preferable option.
Root Canals Reinvented: The Importance of an Endodontist
Patients should always see an endodontist, even if it’s for a simple root canal. An endodontist offers specialized training in performing root canals and so can do multiple root canals, from start to finish, in just one visit. You may think that seems impossible, but the reality is that with a specialist, root canals can truly be done quickly while still being performed properly and efficiently. Furthermore, research has shown patients are more satisfied with treatment when it’s performed by an endodontist. With the best endodontists, root canals aren’t only quick but also comfortable, leaving patients smiling when they leave the office. That’s why many general dentists refer their patients to endodontists: in one recent study of 220 general kdrfcv k practitioners in Northern Ireland, for example, 94% referred patients to a specialist endodontist over other treatment providers.
As experienced dental practitioners, endodontists understand the importance of a rubber dam, which can isolate a tooth during a procedure to prevent saliva and other bacteria-heavy fluids from getting inside. While dental students and even many dentists feel that the rubber dam is a hindrance to getting treatment done, the truth is that rubber dams are crucial tools, not only to prevent bacterial contamination but also to prevent the swallowing of small instruments during the procedure. Pediatric dentists use rubber dams either always or frequently in their day-to-day work and consider it a standard of care. However, it’s just as important for adult dental work: if your dentist doesn’t use a rubber dam, find a new dentist!
Josie, a young woman who was in need of root canal treatment, came to one of the few hyef6 who offered IV sedation to perform her procedures. Her father escorted her to the appointment. During her visit, when Josie had six root canals done, her father commented on being amazed that all the procedures could be finished in one visit. When he had gotten just one root canal performed at his own dentist’s office, the process took a total of three visits, with a great deal of drilling back and forth. He couldn’t believe the contrast in his daughter’s treatment, where so much more could be done in so much less time. That’s the benefit of seeing a specialist: they’re able to do so much more for you expertly. This means less time in the chair, less discomfort, and a healthy, functional, beautiful smile in the simplest way possible.
If you’re thinking that six root canals would be a lot of stress on the body, here’s the truth: actually, performing all of the root canals in one visit with IV sedation puts much less stress on the body than doing them just one or two at a time. With this method, the dentists are cleaning up all of the infection quickly. If they were doing just one or two root canals at a time, the patient deals with infection until all the root canals are completed. Plus, there’s the fact that extended time undergoing treatment means extended time dealing with fear, anxiety, and discomfort—putting considerable extra stress on the body.
Dentists can reduce and even eliminate a lot of that stress through IV sedation. Most of the time, patients don’t feel or remember much, and that is a good thing. It not only improves the experience for them, but it also helps them recover much more easily.