HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- You're visiting the dentist for what you think is a routine checkup and cleaning when he or she says you need a root canal. Though it's a term you've probably heard before, you may have several questions and feel apprehensive about your upcoming procedure.
You'll be relieved to know it's nothing to worry about. The Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) wants to help answer patients' questions and alleviate any anxiety the public may have surrounding this common procedure that is performed more than 20 million times each year.
Root canal treatment is needed when a cavity gets too deep and infects the pulp, the soft tissue comprised of nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue. During a root canal, an endodontist (a dentist who specializes in problems of the pulp) or general dentist drills out the cavity, just like when you have a cavity removed and filled. Only this time, he or she drills into the hollow center of the tooth and uses a special drill to remove the diseased pulp tissue. Once the pulp tissue is removed, the hollow spaces are then filled with a cement and plastic mixture used to seal and prevent future root infections. Left untreated, tooth decay, damage to the bone around the teeth, pain, swelling and even tooth loss can occur.
"It is very important to have a permanent filling and sometimes a crown placed over a tooth with recent root canal treatment," said Dr. Bruce Terry, a PDA member and endodontist from Wayne. "If the tooth is not properly restored, it will get reinfected and the root canal treatment will have to be repeated, or worse, the tooth will have to be extracted."
Most people fear that root canal treatment is painful, however, due to modern advances in dental technology, painful root canals are now a thing of the past. Dentists use lidocaine (a local anesthetic) to numb the area and help minimize any discomfort. Today's rotary files, apex locators and digital radiographs make root canal treatment easier than ever. Many root canal treatments are completed painlessly in a single visit, and last about one hour. Tooth sensitivity after the procedure can be easily managed by over-the-counter pain relievers.
"Helping people is why I became an endodontist in the first place," Dr. Terry said. "In the end, my favorite thing is to hear my patients say 'This was easier than a filling.' Newer techniques and treatments are being developed all the time making this most feared procedure a walk in the park!"
To maintain optimal oral health, PDA recommends brushing twice a day, flossing daily, eating nutritious foods and visiting the dentist every six months for a checkup and professional cleaning. Regular visits to the dentist also will help detect problems in their early stages.
About the Pennsylvania Dental Association
Founded in 1868, the Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) is comprised of approximately 6,000 member dentists. It is a constituency of the American Dental Association (ADA), the largest and oldest national dental society in the world. PDA's mission is to improve the public health, promote the art and science of dentistry and represent the interests of its member dentists and their patients. PDA is the voice of dentistry in Pennsylvania. For more information on PDA, visit our website at www.padental.org.
SOURCE Pennsylvania Dental Association