Root canals are one of the more common procedures in dentistry. However, many patients do not know much about them or take the time to learn about them until they need a root canal themselves. This is entirely understandable. At the same time, it means that those who need root canals often have a few questions they'd like answered before the procedure. This article exists to provide some answers.
What is removed during a root canal?
A root canal involves your dentist drilling into the tooth to remove its inner tissues. These inner tissues are known, collectively, as the tooth "pulp." They include blood vessels and nerves. Removing blood vessels and nerves from a tooth may sound traumatic at first. But keep in mind that if these tissues are to be removed via a root canal, they are already infected and usually already dead. Removing them via a root canal is basically removing dead tissue from the body.
Does a root canal hurt?
No, a root canal should not hurt, thanks to modern dentistry practices. Your dentist will use a nerve block, which is essentially a local anesthetic injected into a nerve, to ensure your tooth and the surrounding area are fully numb before they start working. If you feel anything during a root canal, it will just be vibrations and pressure from the drill. This can be unpleasant, but it should not be painful.
Will the tooth turn black?
Yes, your tooth will turn a grayish, dark color after a root canal. This is because the living tissue inside the tooth has been removed. However, in most cases, your dentist will cover the tooth with a crown after a root canal. So, once the crown is in place, you will not see the actual tooth anymore. The crown is not just cosmetic. It is also meant to protect your tooth as it will be weaker and more fragile following a root canal.
Are there any alternatives to a root canal?
If you have an infection in your tooth, which is almost always why a root canal is recommended, your only real options are to have a root canal or have the tooth extracted. If you would prefer extraction, you can let your dentist know. However, it's almost always worth having a root canal as it allows you to keep the tooth in your mouth.
Good luck with your root canal. Most patients are surprised by how easy the treatment is to endure.