Sometimes we hear things and we believe them because they just sound plausible: being cold can give you a cold; cracking your knuckles can cause arthritis; lightening never strikes in the same place twice; a flu shot can give you the flu; root canals are exceptionally painful. While none of the aforementioned myths are true, and the last one has been told and retold—apparently by those who have never had a root canal—for so long that most people probably believe it to be true. It’s not.

What is a root canal?

Imagine you visit Dr. Brei’s office for your exam and are told you need a root canal. Naturally, you’ll have questions:

  • Why do I need a root canal? – According to the Mayo Clinic, teeth have a soft core called dental pulp. The pulp extends from the crown—the part of the tooth you can see above the gumline—to the tooth’s root in the jawbone. The pulp contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue. When a tooth is cracked or has a deep cavity, bacteria can enter the pulp. Left untreated, bacteria and decaying material can cause a serious infection or a tooth abscess, leading to pulp death, bone loss and loss of the tooth itself. Signs and symptoms may include swelling around your face and neck, a hole in your tooth, toothache or tooth pain, gum swelling, and temperature sensitivity.

    While a severe infection may require the extraction of the tooth, the role of a dentist is to save teeth whenever possible. A root canal removes the infection without necessitating extraction.

  • What’s the procedure? – After viewing your X-rays to determine the extent of the infection, Dr. Brei will determine whether a root canal is the best course of action and may refer you to an endodontist—a dentist specializing in root canals. The endodontist will administer local anesthesia to numb the tooth and will then access the inside of the tooth using a small drill.

    Then, a small file will be used to clear away the damaged and diseased pulp from the inside of the tooth. Additional steps, such as irrigating the root chamber or applying an antimicrobial solution in the chamber, might be employed to kill any remaining bacteria and reduce the risk of further infection.

    A few weeks after the root canal, Dr. Brei’s office will finish the procedure by placing a permanent crown on top of the tooth.

    It’s advised that, a month or two after the procedure, patients make an appointment with Dr. Brei’s office, so office staff can X-ray the treated tooth, and Dr. Brei or Dr. Schneider can view the X-rays to be certain that infection hasn’t returned.

Adult humans only have 32 teeth, and while implants or dentures are a good solution to replace missing teeth, it’s easier to do everything possible to keep the teeth one has. A root canal makes it possible to keep and use the tooth for many more years.

Visit the office of Dr. Brei regularly so that small cracks or cavities are taken care of in a timely manner, before an infection can develop.

There are many ways to get in touch with the office of Dr. Brei and Dr. Schneider. You can email them at appointments@drbrei.com, call them at 520-325-9000, or click here to book an appointment directly. To stop an infection before it starts, contact the office of Dr. Brei and Dr. Schneider today!