Nobody wants to get a root canal procedure. It can be uncomfortable, expensive, weaken your tooth and cause other issues. And yet, root canals are necessary for millions of teeth every year.
But what if they didn’t have to be?
Up until now, no alternative to the classic root canal procedure has emerged. This could be changing soon, though, thanks to some promising research across the pond as well as right here at home.
Researchers from the University of Nottingham and the Wyss Institute at Harvard University have developed a cutting edge dental procedure that would prevent the need for root canals altogether. That’s right, no more root canals.
Instead, the method would harness the power of stem cells to allow damaged pulp to naturally regenerate a protective layer of dentin, the hard outer layer of your teeth. Theoretically, this would allow a damaged tooth to naturally repair itself.
What Does a Root Canal Procedure Entail?
When an injury or large cavity damages the tooth’s root, it can become infected or inflamed. A root canal procedure addresses this issue by removing the damaged tissue at the center of a tooth.
The procedure begins with the dentist making an opening through the crown of the tooth to the pulp chamber, where he cleans the infection and removes damaged pulp from the canals. A temporary filling is then placed on top of the tooth to seal the opening.
This filling remains in place until a later appointment when a permanent filling or crown is installed. The procedure is typically done over the course of a few different appointments, though new technologies have accelerated the process to a point where it can often be completed in one or two.
Are Root Canals Painful?
A typical misconception is that root canals are extremely painful. This is not even remotely true. In fact, many patients experience no root canal pain whatsoever thanks to the local anesthetic that numbs the tooth and surrounding area. For patients who tend to be a little more anxious or pain intolerant, dental providers like Bright Side Dental offer calming medicines such as nitrous oxide to keep you at ease.
The recovery from a root canal is also rather painless. While some patients do experience heightened sensitivity due to natural tissue inflammation, these aches can usually be alleviated by over-the-counter pain medications such as Aleve or Advil. Any discomfort that does exist will usually disappear within a few days.
Preparing for a Root Canal
A root canal is a standard dental procedure, but it’s still nice to be prepared. Here are five tips to help ensure an easy root canal procedure and recovery:
- Do not eat, smoke or drink alcohol for at least 12 hours before your root canal procedure.
- Do not take medication prior to your root canal procedure unless your dentist says it’s OK. If you need a certain type of medication that your dentist says you should avoid, contact your primary care physician.
- After your root canal procedure, avoid sticky foods and try not to chew on the side of the mouth that was treated.
- Dress comfortably, as you might be sitting in the same position for over an hour.
- Talk to your dentist as he might have specific suggestions relating to your root canal procedure. He will most likely tell you what you need to know in advance, but be proactive and never be afraid to ask questions.
Real Talk About Root Canals
While root canals are usually effective and relatively painless, they are not a perfect treatment option. In addition to not naturally correcting the issues that necessitated the procedure in the first place, root canals can fail for several reasons.
For example, if the bacteria are not completely removed from the canals during the first root canal, they can multiply and cause pain. Additionally, fillings can break down or leak, allowing bacteria to return. When this happens, root canal infections can form, requiring a second root canal procedure.
Unfortunately, second root canals are not always easy to execute since the repaired tooth may be cemented or packed in very tightly. In such cases, your dentist might recommend endodontic surgery, which would allow him to penetrate the tooth’s root from the bottom rather than the top. According to Colgate, endodontic surgery is successful about 85 percent of the time.
A Promising Alternative to Root Canals
While root canals have a come a long way, there are still some issues with the procedure — the main one being that they don’t repair damaged tissue. That’s what makes this new method being developed so exciting.
The procedure would utilize newly designed biomaterials to help regrow decaying dentin and strengthen the tooth naturally. If proven effective, the treatment would not only fortify teeth but also reduce the number of root canals that would need to be performed.
Dr. Adam Celiz, Marie Curie Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham, described the procedure as follows in a statement:
“We have designed synthetic biomaterials that can be used similarly to dental fillings but can be placed in direct contact with pulp tissue to stimulate the native stem cell population for repair and regeneration of pulp tissue and the surrounding dentin. Our approach has great promise to impact the dental field and this prize provides a great platform to develop this technology further with industrial partners.”
Added Dr. Kyle Vining, DDS, Fellow at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University: “We are excited about the promise of therapeutic biomaterials for bringing regenerative medicine to restorative dentistry.”
Don’t Wait! Contact Bright Side Dental for a Root Canal Today
While this new treatment could be a total game-changer in the dental community, it is not currently used in practice and it could be a while before it is. If you’re having teeth issues, you can’t afford to sit back and wait for the procedure to become available. The longer you wait, the more you risk root canal infections from taking effect.
There’s no reason to be afraid of a root canal procedure, especially when Bright Side Dental is on the job. Our Royal Oak dentists are the best at what they do, and work doubly hard to ensure you’re both mentally and physically comfortable while you’re in our hands.
If your tooth is causing you pain, call the local experts at Bright Side Dental. We have the experience necessary to make your procedure as painless as possible so that you are grinning again in no time. Call us at 1-800-Painless to make an appointment today.