Dentistry has come a long way over the years. For example, in ancient Babylon and other parts of the world, toothaches were thought to be caused a a creature called a tooth worm. No knew what a tooth worm looked like, since in reality they obviously do not exist. But the ancients did not know that, and among the toothache remedies was the practice of removing the tooth worm. Some historians believe that when ancient dentists found the and extracted the tooth worm, they had actually located the nerve! That probably made for some very long agonizing, dental visits.
For much of history, if someone developed a toothache, they lived with it until the tooth fell out or rotted away, or they simply had it pulled. And to be fair, that was probably easier than sitting through a “tooth worm” extraction. However with the advent of modern dentistry, a tooth that has become infected by damage or decay can be saved by a root canal. The words “root canal” can inspire fear in the toughest of dental patients, but our dentist, Dr. Jeffrey Lowry uses pain management techniques to ensure that you feel comfortable. Although the pulp of your tooth contains the blood vessels and nerves that keep your tooth alive, the structure of the tooth can survive without it, and infected pulp can cause a range of problems for your health.
To perform a root canal the dentist will acces and remove the pulp of your tooth. Once that is done, he will clean the pulp chamber to remove any infection or leftover pulp. Then, after slightly enlarging the chamber and sealing it, the dentist will replace the pulp with a medicated material, and then seal the tooth. Then the dentist will send you home with aftercare instructions, and if necessary a prescription for an antibiotic. You should take the antibiotic as prescribed, and finish your the prescription. The dentist will want to see you again in a few weeks to check your progress and to discuss your restoration options for your tooth, which may be a crown.
On occasion, you may have a problem with a root canal. If you develop a new crack or cavity in the tooth, wait too long to get your crown, or if some of the pulp was left in the tooth, you may need a root canal retreatment. If you experience a fever, chills, dizziness, pain or swelling, contact the office as soon as possible. During a root canal retreatment, the dentist may repeat the root canal process, or if a tiny bit of pulp was left in a root, you may need an apicoectomy. This is a surgical process in which the root tip is removed.
Although root canals have picked up a bad reputation over the years, the fact is that they have saved many teeth from extraction. However, the best way to protect your smile is by brushing twice a day for two minutes at a time, flossing once a day and seeing the dentist for your routine cleanings and exams. Those dental visits give the dentist the chance to check for minor issues that could develop into major ones and help you avoid things like fillings and even root canals.
If you are having problems with a tooth in Riverside, California, or if it is just time for your regular dental appointment, we would love to see you at Jeffrey A Lowry DDS. Give us a call today and let’s get started on giving you a great smile.