So you heard the words you hoped your dentist would never say: “You need a root canal.” While this phrase causes emotions ranging from frustration to fear in many of our patients, the procedure itself is widely used, effective, and tolerable for most patients.
Still, you might be asking yourself, “Is a root canal my only option?”
If so, we’re glad you’ve come to us. The providers at Downtown Dental Studios — Fadi Beydoun, DMD, MS, Alexander Kimon, DMD, and Karina Zaygermakher, DMD — have administered many root canals since we were established in 2003. And in most cases, we still feel this is the best procedure to deal with the badly damaged or infected pulp inside the tooth.
The root canal is a common procedure in the United States. More than 15 million of them are performed every year. Still, 59% of people surveyed by the AAE were afraid of root canals — and 41% would rather swim with sharks than get one!
The procedure has a bad rap because most people only know it to be painful. In some cases, patients don’t even know why someone might have to get one until they’re told it’s necessary. A root canal involves removing the infected pulp by drilling a hole through the tooth and covering it with a crown to protect its vulnerabilities.
Based on this, it does sound like it would hurt. But patients receive local anesthesia, which numbs the area during the procedure. Pain after the fact is common, but it can be managed through OTC medications. In many cases, the pain you felt before the procedure will dissipate after healing.
Still, you might want to know what other options you have besides a root canal. One is direct pulp capping, which involves covering the exposed pulp due to tooth decay. But if the pulp is severely infected, you won’t be able to utilize this option.
Another option is a pulpotomy, which requires removing the pulp but doesn’t require removing the tooth nerve. Like the above, however, this is only utilized in special cases like with a child who still has their baby teeth or with a person who needs quick pain relief before a root canal. Pulptomonies are not recommended when you have severe decay.
The last option is to have the tooth extracted or removed. This may seem like an easier option, but you will need to have the tooth replaced with something, such as an implant to protect your dental hygiene going forward.
However, in most cases, if you are experiencing severe pain or infection, we recommend a root canal. This is because the procedure isn’t as painful as most people think, and it’s usually more effective than the other options listed here. What’s more, root canals are less costly than having a tooth extracted and an implant put in its place.
Root canals also allow you to preserve your tooth in the most effective way possible. In many cases, being able to save the tooth is better for the patient’s overall comfort and happiness in the long run.
The other options we mentioned in this post may be available under special circumstances. But generally speaking, a root canal is a good choice when the pulp inside the tooth becomes exposed, damaged, or infected.
If you think you might need a root canal, it’s best to do it sooner than later. We’d be happy to see you at our NYC office in the Financial District. Call 212-964-3337 or book an appointment online.