You’ve heard the jokes for years such as, “I’d rather be abducted by aliens than have a root canal.”

Dentists across America want to debunk this myth of excruciating root canal pain once and for all. Technology has made the root canal process a straightforward procedure to more easily relieve pain and most importantly, save your teeth and smile. Millions of teeth are treated and preserved each year thanks to a root canal.

“Root canal” is the term used to describe the natural cavity within the center of a tooth. The pulp, also known as the pulp chamber, is the soft area within the root canal. The tooth’s nerve sits in that canal. So when that area is damaged or infected and you feel pain, it’s time to call the dentist.

In extreme cases the infection becomes abscessed. When this happens the canal actually fills with pus and there’s the danger of the infection spreading to the rest of the body. It can also lead to massive swelling called Cellulitis, an infection that travels under deep layers of skin near the tooth. It is treated with antibiotics but can lead to hospitalization if not caught soon enough. That’s why it’s important to get to the dentist at the first inkling of pain before things get out of hand.

Here’s the most important information: contrary to popular belief, a root canal is no more painful than getting a tooth filling. Really.

First x-rays will be taken to indicate where the decay is located. Then local anesthesia is administered to the affected tooth area. The dentist will make an opening and the diseased tooth pulp is removed and the area disinfected. Last, the roots that have been opened to get rid of the diseased pulp are filled with special material and sealed off with a cement-like substance. Most of the time a crown is needed to cover the area.

The whole procedure is now quick, comfortable, and tooth-saving.

It can be performed in one appointment and seem as routine as getting a filling. Within hours you can be back to effortlessly chewing, biting and smiling.

Saving the natural tooth with a root canal procedure is full of advantages such as maintaining a natural appearance, biting into and chewing whatever you want, and having a new-found appreciation for the modern day root canal.

Stop listening to the decades of root canal jokes and help those around you wise up. Tooth pain is nothing to avoid and if a root canal is called for, go for it. You’ll never regret preserving your own teeth and smile.

If you are experiencing tooth pain, contact your dentist immediately, if your dentist recommends a root canal, contact us for a consultation today!

Author:  Dr. Shelley Shearer

Article originally appeared at: