June 25, 2024
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June 25, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

“…You need a root canal.” As dentists, we find that this can be perceived as the worst thing we can say to a patient. The root canal has a bad reputation, but most of it is unfounded. Millions of root canal procedures are performed each year, most with great success. Let us allay your fears and provide some facts about root canals.

To understand a root canal, also known as an endodontic procedure, it helps to know about the anatomy of the tooth. A tooth is made up of layers of material. First is the hard, white enamel; under that is a layer called the dentin. On the inside is a soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue, and helps to grow the root of your tooth during development. A root canal is needed when the pulp is infected or inflamed. During root canal treatment, the pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected, then filled and sealed with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. In most cases, the tooth will then need a crown to protect it.

How do you know you need a root canal? An interesting fact is that many patients do not have pain. Some have a small bubble on their gum, indicating a draining infection within the tooth. A dentist may notice on a routine x-ray exam a change in the bone or a large cavity that is near the nerve and requires a root canal to treat properly. And yes, some people do have pain. However, the type of pain is the indicator to dentists—to cold or heat, biting pressure or just hanging around doing nothing—whether a root canal is required or not. Pain is what gives root canals their bad reputation, but while you may have pain to indicate the need for a root canal, you should experience no pain during the procedure. Modern root canal treatment is very similar to having a routine filling and usually can be completed in one or two appointments. You can expect a comfortable experience during and after your appointment.

Since root canal treatment is so feared, many people ask if we can just pull the tooth instead of undergoing the root canal procedure. While pulling a tooth that needs a root canal will stop any pain or infection, saving the natural tooth with root canal treatment has many advantages. Endodontic treatment helps you maintain your natural smile, continue eating the foods you love and limits the need for ongoing dental work. With proper care, most teeth that have had root canal treatment can last just as long as other natural teeth. Of course, root canals, along with many other dental problems, can also be avoided with regular dental care. So do not put off those checkups!

Dr. Herbert Schneider has been recognized for his work with fellowship awards from the Academy of General Dentistry and the American Endodontic Society. He also holds a prestigious Mastership from the World Clinical Laser Institute. Dr. Rachel Jacobs joined the practice in 2006. Her calm, yet precise manner makes her a hit with both adults and children. Both doctors are certified in the uses of three different clinical lasers.

By Dr. Herbert Schneider and Dr. Rachel Jacobs

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