Most of us in the Illinois Valley, and pretty much everywhere, have heard of a root canal and associate it as something we don’t ever want to deal with. The truth is, a root canal can be relatively painless and very beneficial in terms of saving your natural teeth and avoiding the need for a bridge or tooth implant. Even so, for those who have had it, the inclination would be to avoid another one if possible. So if a root canal procedure is something we’d like to avoid, what, if anything, can we do to prevent or at least reduce our chances of needing one? The answer is relatively simple and involves the good dental hygiene we need to be practicing already for healthy teeth in general. But first, let’s quickly explore what a root canal is and why one would be needed it the first place…
Beneath the layers of the hard tissue of your teeth, beginning with the outward layer of the enamel and the dentin below that there is softer internal tissue called “pulp” that consists of nerves, connective tissue and nerves. Pulp is very sensitive but critical to the formation of the roots in our teeth. Once fully developed, these roots are no longer necessary.
Once this pulp becomes inflamed or infected, causing a sensitive pain and often, an abscess, making a root canal necessary. If not left untreated for too long, tooth removal becomes the only option…something we’d all like to avoid.
The root canal procedure consists of gently drilling through the tooth and carefully extracting the pulp. Which sounds worse than it actually is. Once there area is cleaned and disinfected, it is then filled with a rubber-like substance (gutta-percha), essentially replacing the pulp and make the inside of the tooth “complete” which should eliminate the pain going forward. The final step is to cap the tooth with a filling or crown.
So how do we avoid, or at least reduce the chances of a root canal in the first place? As with all oral health it begins with good oral hygiene to prevent tooth severe decay and cavities that can lead to an abscess and inflation of the pulp in the first place. That means:
- Brushing at least twice per day
- Flossing daily
- Using an antiseptic mouthwash daily
- Eating healthy, whole foods that aren’t processed with excess sugar
- Keeping regular dentists appointments for cleaning
- Having cavities fixed and filled as soon as they are discovered
While root canals may become necessary throughout your life and they seem scarier than they actually are, it’s important to have a good oral hygiene routine to reduce your chances of needing one. This is also a good habit to get into for your overall health and wellbeing. For more information or if suspect you may need a root canal don’t hesitate to visit or call Dr. Ed Monroe at A Lifetime of Smiles either of our Illinois Valley locations in Princeton or Peru.