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Root Canals: Friend or Foe

It’s a moment that nobody ever wants to face: The dentist pulls back in their chair and utters the unspeakable words, “I think you’re going to need a root canal”. Your face feels flushed, your hands begin to shake, and your eyes begin to well with tears. Then it’s - “OMG, A ROOT CANAL!!!”

Root canals are one of the most dreaded procedures the entire world. It makes me cringe when I hear the expression, “I would rather have a root canal than _________” (fill in the blank with the most unpleasant, demeaning, disgusting activity known to humankind). Contrary to popular belief, root canals have come a long way and they are no longer the painful, time-consuming procedures that they used to be. In fact, most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference between getting a root canal and getting a simple filling.

My favorite thing to tell patients is that our Valencia dental practice loves performing root canals. That being said, our dentists understand

that our patients don’t share the same enthusiasm. We love doing them because, professionally, they are one of the most challenging procedures to do, and honestly, we are really good at doing them. But we will try to avoid performing root canals because we know that patients cannot stand going through them.

So how do we determine whether or not a Root Canal is necessary? If the nerve of a tooth has died or has even been compromised, it must be removed. Generally, we will access the nerve by creating an opening from the top of the tooth. The nerve and blood supply is then removed with small instruments which are fractions of millimeters in diameter. Once the nerve of the tooth is removed, we widen the tooth space where the nerve once was. This space is called the “root canal”, and clearing it out enables us to fill the tooth with a special filling material. Even though the tooth’s nerve and associated blood supply is no longer present, the tooth structure can last for many many years provided a crown is placed on it.

So you can see why root canals can be associated with pain; we are essentially working on an exposed nerve. That is why anesthesia is so important. Without it, the patient would be in a great deal of discomfort. If you are really anxious, your body may lower the effectiveness of the anesthetic so we have options like nitrous oxide and twilight sleep available for you.

Our doctors have invested a lot of resources to acquire the latest root canal therapy equipment and to become experts in the most advanced techniques. Root Canals used to take 3 appointments of 2 hours to complete but now we can complete most procedures in just one appointment of 1 ½ each. The procedure not only is completed faster but it is also far more accurate, resulting in greater success rates.

Many emergencies that we see with our new patients are from root canals that have been done poorly in the past. Like I mentioned before, root canal procedures are one of the most difficult procedures to perform in dentistry. Not every dentist has the ability and resources to perform root canals with excellent long term results. When we see cases of failed root canals, we have a great team of root canal specialists that we can consult.

From all of as at Go Dental, we truly hope that you never need a root canal. But if you do, rest assured, you are in great hands.


Your Valencia Dentist

Dr. Christopher Go