Root canal: What is it?
Witches, werewolves, vampires, poltergeists, goblins, gargoyles, demons, root canals; we fear them all in varying degrees. Yet, strangely, only the first seven find their way into horror movies on a regular basis.
Perhaps no one has, as yet, found a suitably grotesque visual manifestation of a root canal for this nonetheless horrifying spectre to achieve celluloid infamy. Surely it can’t be too far away unless, of course, it already exists and our complete lack of research into movie archives has been painfully exposed.
Not as painfully exposed as the nerves in a decayed tooth, however. So let’s bring the root canal horror story to life as best we can and see how scary it really is.
What is a root canal?
A root canal operation is usually the preferred dental option when infection is deep inside a tooth due to a serious, untreated cavity. Generally, this is a last ditch effort to save a tooth and if the infection is too severe, a dentist will decide to remove it.
If, however, a root canal rescue mission is likely to succeed, a root canal it is. Using a variety of very small tools – drills and files – your dentist will clear away all the diseased pulp from the inside of the tooth to create a clean, bacteria-free chamber.
Once the chamber is deemed to be yucky stuff-free, the dentist will fill it with a rubbery substance – probably gutta percha – and top the tooth with a temporary filling.
A few weeks later, the job will be completed with a permanent crown.
Is root canal as painful as everyone says?
Like every profession and every industry in the 21st century, dentistry has advanced and advanced exponentially. Gone are the days of heavy duty pliers and loose teeth attached to doorknobs by pieces of string. Root canal has gone along for the ride of this technological advancement and as such has stopped being even a bit scary.
Root canal is now a pain-free procedure
In the words of Pink Floyd “Just a little pinprick, there’ll be no more, ah!” It’s unclear whether Comfortably Numb is a spookily accurate prophecy of dental procedures to come, but such lines as ‘There is no pain, you are receding,’ and ‘Your lips move, but I can’t hear what you say,’ do seem very dental.
With a root canal, there is no pain after that very brief initial pinprick of anaesthetic around the infected tooth. And most dentists still can’t hear what you say with a mouthful of cotton rolls and instruments.
What does root canal cost?
As always costs vary spectacularly from dentist to dentist. You should pay around $2000. If you don’t shop around and merely accept the first quote, you might well pay about $3500. Do your homework first.