What are you more afraid of – ghosts, ghouls, and poltergeists or a root canal? If you’re like most adults, you probably find root canals more fear inducing than anything supernatural. Just hearing your dentist say the words “root canal” might make your heart beat a little faster. But it’s important to remember that a root canal is no more painful than a filling. In fact, it will likely reduce far more pain than it will cause. But although it’s not exactly optional, you might wonder, “What happens if you don’t get a root canal?”
Root Canal 101
A root canal is a treatment used to repair and save a badly damaged or infected tooth. The name “root canal” is apt, since the procedure involves cleaning the canals inside the tooth’s root. During the procedure, your dentist will remove the damaged pulp within the tooth, clean and disinfect the interior of the tooth, fill the tooth with gutta-percha material, and then seal the tooth to protect it. Local anesthesia is administered to the affected tooth to ensure that the procedure is comfortable for the patient.
If your dentist recommends that you have a root canal, you typically don’t have much of a choice. You may be suffering from a cracked tooth, a deep cavity, or dental trauma – all common reasons for a root canal. You’ll likely be in pain, and knowing that a root canal will alleviate that pain will make it easier to accept the recommended treatment. However, you may still wonder, “What happens if you don’t get a root canal?”
What Happens If You Don’t Get a Root Canal?
If you need a root canal, the pulp inside your tooth is likely infected. Left untreated, the infection may spread from the tooth to the gum and jawbone surrounding the decaying pulp. The word infection doesn’t carry the same fear-inducing weight as root canal, but if your infection is serious, it could cause you to lose your tooth or part of your jaw. An untreated root canal can also lead to dental abscesses or a life-threatening heart attack, stroke, or sepsis. Not to mention the fact that if your infection progresses to this point, you will likely be in extreme pain.
In most cases, if your dentist recommends a root canal, your only other option is to have the tooth removed. But even though extraction is often deemed an alternative to a root canal, the best option (when possible) is always to save your natural tooth. Extraction is a last resort, typically used only when a tooth cannot be saved. This may happen, for example, if you suffer a severe fracture and the crack in the tooth extends below the gumline. If your tooth must be extracted, your dentist will explore alternatives for replacement with you, including implants and bridges.
Though it sounds scary, a root canal is a routine procedure that can prevent the spread of infection, alleviate pain, and save your tooth. So if your dentist recommends this form of treatment, trust his or her judgment and ask any questions that would make you feel more comfortable with the procedure.
Looking for a new dentist in the Springfield, Missouri, area? Contact Wilkinson Dental. We provide an array of general and cosmetic dental services, including root canals, regular cleanings, crowns, dentures, teeth whitening services, and more. Call us today at 417-708-0556 or visit us online to schedule your first appointment. We look forward to welcoming you to the Wilkinson Dental family.