Root canals are more common than you think. In fact, close to 15 million root canals are completed each and every year in the US! There’s good reason for that. Root canals are 95 percent successful and are often the only effective way of saving a badly decayed tooth. If you’re wondering who does root canals in Austin, Texas, or need to know more about this common procedure, read on! We’ve compiled the following information to explain more about root canals and who performs them.
Why Would You Need a Root Canal?
The Root Canal Procedure
Although some of the minor details can vary depending on the individual patient’s needs, here are the typical steps involved in a root canal procedure:
- The dentist administers anaesthetic to numb the affected tooth and surrounding gum tissue. If you’re nervous about having the procedure, your dentist might also recommend some form of dental sedation. There are a variety of methods available, including nitrous oxide (laughing gas), oral sedation (a prescribed pill that you take before arriving at the dentist’s office), and IV sedation (administered via IV immediately prior to the procedure). All of these will allow you to remain conscious yet completely relaxed during the procedure.
- The dentist will use a specially designed tool to remove decay from the affected tooth. This will involve removing both the pulp and the nerves from the inside of the tooth. Fortunately, a tooth doesn’t need either pulp or nerves to function normally, so removing this portion of the core will leave behind a tooth that is still fully functional.
- After removing the decay, the dentist will thoroughly clean the tooth and seal it off. In many cases, the dentist will also affix a crown over the tooth to provide even more protection.
Who Performs Root Canals?
So far in this article, we’ve been referring to the dental professional performing the root canal as a “dentist,” and while it’s true that many dentists are qualified and experienced in performing root canals, endodontists are dentists who specialize in root canals. In fact, most endodontists go through an additional two to three years after dentistry school to focus on diagnosing tooth pain and treating conditions related to the interior portion of the tooth (i.e., the core).
While endodontists specialize in root canals, it doesn’t mean that these dental professionals are the only people qualified to perform root canals. In fact, many “general dentists” successfully complete root canals for their patients on a regular basis. But if a patient requires a particularly complicated procedure involving the interior of a tooth, a general dentist may refer that patient to an endodontist. This is often the case with teeth that have a complex root systems (like molars, for example). The canals inside these teeth can become obstructed or difficult to treat, and that may require advanced tools like imaging systems and/or high-powered microscopes. General dentists don’t always have those types of tools available to them and they may not have experience with this type of complicated procedure. In these instances, the dentist will refer the patient to an endodontist.
Should You Choose a Dentist or an Endodontist?
Although you certainly have the option of contacting an endodontist, most patients are referred to these specialists by their dentists. Your dentist is the person responsible for providing you with high quality dental care, as well as the person who performs your regular oral exams and keeps track of your oral health history. So your dentist will know whether or not you need to see an endodontist, and will make that referral when it’s appropriate.
Symptoms of Needing a Root Canal
Although only your dentist can tell you for sure whether or not you need a root canal, there are some symptoms that are commonly associated with needing one. Those include a persistent toothache, swelling and/or tenderness of gum tissue around a particular tooth, a tooth that has turned gray or black in color, sudden sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks, and/or a tooth that has become loose in its socket. While these symptoms are common for patients needing a root canal, you might also experience no symptoms whatsoever yet still need the procedure. And just the opposite is true – you might experience one or more of these symptoms and not need a root canal. Only your dentist can tell you for sure whether or not you need the procedure.
The Good News about Root Canals
Thanks to modern dental technology, root canals are not only very effective ways to save teeth that might otherwise need to be extracted, they are also virtually pain-free. The combination of anaesthetic used to effectively numb the tooth and surrounding gum tissue, along with dental sedation to help the patient remain calm, means that a root canal is no more uncomfortable than any other dental procedure. And you should know that although these procedures can be somewhat more complicated and as a result more time-consuming than other dental services, the vast majority of the time root canals are permanent and successful.
To find out more about who does root canals in Austin, Texas, and whether or not this dental procedure is right for you, contact your dentist today and schedule an appointment.