Let’s face facts: Nobody in the history of the universe has ever wanted to get a root canal. But the root canal procedure is a key component of modern-day dentistry — and it can help you keep your natural teeth for a lifetime. Here at Dr. Lance Johnson Family Dentistry, we think that’s definitely something to smile about — especially during May, which includes Root Canal Appreciation Day.

It’s hard to imagine appreciating a root canal, especially when they are often mentioned as a point of comparison when gauging the awfulness of anything: “I’d rather get a root canal!” And we admit it, we wouldn’t have wanted a root canal back in 1838, when the very first root canal tool was created by Washington, D.C. dentist Edwin Maynard — who made a makeshift tooth drill out of a watch spring and sealed off his root canal patients’ teeth with lead caps. Yikes!

Fortunately, 21st-century dentistry has come a long, long way from Edwin and his invention. Now millions of people get root canal treatments every single year, and very few ever experience any pain or complications. Of course, it’s important to have a dentist you trust when it comes to any dental procedure — and if a root canal is in your future, the team at Dr. Lance Johnson Family Dentistry will walk you through every step, so you feel confident receiving the treatment.

Why do I need a root canal treatment, and what exactly is it, anyway?

Root canals don’t sound like much fun, but they are often necessary to treat a damaged or infected tooth that’s causing pain and discomfort.

The goal of most root canal procedures is to help you keep your natural tooth. When you get a root canal treatment, your dentist will get rid of harmful bacteria in the infected root area of a tooth. That’s done by removing the infected portion, or pulp, of the tooth’s root.

The pulp lies under the enamel and a strong layer of dentin. Luckily, your tooth can manage just fine without the pulp, thanks to other tissues inside the tooth that provide nourishment.

After all infection is cleared out of the pulp, your dentist will carefully fill and seal the tooth. Then, your dentist will cover it with a protective permanent crown or filling, so that you can use it for many years to come.

Aren’t root canals painful?

Nope. Root canals are actually very similar to having a cavity filled at the dentist’s office or having a wisdom tooth extracted. We’ll numb the affected area before doing any work at all on the tooth. And the root canal procedure generally takes only one or two appointments, depending on your situation and tooth condition. Of course, you can expect a bit of soreness post-procedure, and maybe some mild discomfort for a couple of days.

Do I really need to save my tooth? Can’t I just get dentures or an implant?

You don’t have to save the tooth, but there are plenty of reasons you’ll want to. Keeping as many of your natural teeth as possible over the course of a lifetime is important for oral health. That’s because your teeth work together, and missing even one or two teeth can ruin your bite and make your chewing far less efficient. Preserving teeth also protects neighboring teeth from too much wear or force, and you’ll maintain that gorgeous natural smile for far longer.

Endodontic treatment, repair, and restoration of natural teeth is generally a far more affordable route than having a tooth removed. That’s because any extracted tooth has to be replaced by either an implant or a bridge. If a tooth isn’t replaced, chewing may be compromised and adjacent teeth may shift out of alignment, causing further complications.

How do I know if I need a root canal?

That’s something that your dentist will be able to assess from an exam and X-rays. Often a cracked tooth caused by an injury will damage the root and necessitate a root canal. A large cavity or problems caused from a prior filling may also need repair in the form of a root canal procedure.

There are certain symptoms you might notice that could mean it’s time for a root canal:

  • Chipped or cracked tooth
  • Extreme pain while biting or chewing
  • Acute sensitivity to cold or heat, particularly lasting sensitivity
  • Swelling of the gums or tenderness
  • Small “pimples” on the gums
  • Severe decay or discoloration of the gums

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call us right away.

How long will it take for me to recover from my root canal?

These days, root canal procedures are efficient and relatively pain-free, so many patients return to work and school immediately after the procedure. You’ll be numb for a few hours after the root canal, though, so you might want to skip a meal until your numbness dissipates.

Won’t a root canal cost me a fortune?

Luckily, most dental insurance policies offer coverage for endodontic procedures such as root canals. The cost for a root canal depends on the extent of the issue, and oddly enough, which tooth has the problem. For instance, molars are considerably more tricky to treat, and therefore often cost more to repair. Here at Dr. Lance Johnson Family Dental, we’re happy to go over estimates for the procedure and talk to your insurance provider for you to get the most value from your dental plan.

Is there anything special I need to do to prepare for a root canal procedure?

Sure! You might want to talk to your dentist about a post-procedure course of antibiotics, to ward off any infection. You can also take an over-the-counter painkiller like Tylenol, ibuprofen, or Aleve before your treatment. It’s also smart to avoid smoking before and after your root canal, as smoking can impede the body’s ability to heal. Be sure you eat a few hours before the procedure, as you might not want to eat for a while afterwards. And a good night’s sleep the night before is always just what the doctor ordered.

Any other questions? Give us a call at Dr. Lance Johnson Family Dentistry! We’d be happy to allay any anxiety you might have about a root canal treatment and answer any questions. You’re always in good hands with Dr. Lance and team.

Dr. Lance Johnson Family Dentistry Brings Smiles to Sherman, Texas

Dr. Lance Johnson Family Dentistry in Sherman, Texas, is dedicated to providing you with exceptional, top-quality dental care. Our number-one priority is your comfort, and we go above and beyond to ensure your appointment is seamless and stress-free.

Our welcoming and caring team sets us apart from the rest, and that special touch is apparent as soon as you step into our lobby. Our team is made up of qualified doctors, hygienists, and assistants who are always up to date on the latest techniques and dental technology. By attending continuing education classes every year, our staff remains current, confident, and ready to provide first-class service.

As a fully digital, state-of-the-art office, we are proud to offer a comprehensive array of services, including general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, orthodontics, dental implants, crown-in-a-day, and more! Your teeth and mouth are at the root of living a healthy life, so book your appointment today.