In honor of Root Canal Awareness Week, which occurs each May, your dentist in Douglasville thought it would be fun to talk about this treatment that patients often dread. Why? Because it has a bad reputation for being painful — when the total opposite is the actual truth. Root canals are probably one of the most recognized and misunderstood dental services used today, with over 41,000 completed treatments on patients every single day, according to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE). The AAE also says more than 15 million root canals are performed each year in the United States.
If root canals are that bad, why are they so popular?
The Tooth Truth About How Root Canals Work
As scary as you might think it’s going to be to have a root canal, there’s really nothing to worry about, thanks to your dentist in Douglasville, who has some of dentistry’s most innovative technology. Having a root canal today is not a lot different from having a deep filling. There’s little or no discomfort because a local anesthetic is used to numb your tooth and surrounding gums for complete comfort. During the actual procedure, the:
- Inside of your damaged tooth is thoroughly cleaned
- Infected pulp and nerve tissue are removed
- Tooth is cleaned to avoid further damage
You won’t feel pain, maybe just some pressure. Sometimes patients experience tenderness in their gums following a root canal, but acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) will certainly help.
Root Canals Actually Get Rid of Pain (Not Cause More)
Instead of causing you more dental discomfort, think of your root canal as the solution that can get rid of:
- Pain when chewing or biting
- Lingering sensitivity to hot or cold
- Pimples on the gums
- Swollen or tender gums
- Discolored gums or teeth
- Chipped or cracked teeth
A 2011 review of 72 studies of root canal patients looked at pre-treatment, treatment, and post-treatment pain. These results showed that while the pain was high in patients before their root canal, it dropped moderately within one day of treatment, before dropping even more substantially to minimal levels within a week.
Prevention is Always Best
While we use root canals as tooth-savers, it’s best to avoid having to have the treatment altogether, right? To prevent the need for future root canals or other dental issues, always brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss once. Using a fluoride toothpaste or mouth rinse is also beneficial for protecting your teeth from harmful bacteria that can cause tooth decay that leads to needing a root canal. We know you’ve probably heard this before, but try to limit the amount of sugary food and refined carbohydrates you eat. Sometimes these foods stick to your teeth and cause cavities.
Did you know there have been studies showing that older women with gum infections are more prone to developing common forms of cancer? Women with optimal oral health are less likely to get various forms of cancer. Your dentist in Douglasville wanted to take a moment to shed some important light on how critical it is to maintain good oral health, especially in your gums.
What is Periodontal Disease?
When conducting their studies, researchers focused on what we call periodontal or gum disease. There are two forms of the disease:
- Gingivitis – This is the mildest form of gum disease, and it causes the tissue around your teeth to become red, swollen, and bleed more easily. Gingivitis can be mildly uncomfortable, but it’s generally reversible with help from your dentist in Douglasville and good at-home dental care.
- Periodontitis – When you don’t treat gingivitis properly, it can worsen into a condition called periodontitis. Over time, plaque can spread and grow beneath your gum line and allow bacteria to irritate your gums. This can stimulate a chronic inflammatory response elsewhere in your body that can cause your body to break down its own bone and tissue that help support your teeth.
It’s essential to treat your gums with care, ensuring they stay healthy enough to support your teeth for a lifetime of comfortable oral health.
What Did the Study Find?
Researchers found that compared to women with no issues with their oral health, women who had trouble with their gums and teeth were 14 percent more likely to develop cancer. The most significant risk was developing cancer in your esophagus, which is three times higher in women with periodontal disease. The study also found that, “Women with periodontal disease were also 31 percent more likely to be diagnosed with lung tumors, 73 percent more likely to get gallbladder cancers, 13 percent more likely to have breast tumors, and 23 percent more likely to have melanoma.” If left untreated, periodontal disease can also lead to tooth loss, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.
The Connection Isn’t All Clear
There are still questions about the exact causes of the connection between periodontal disease and cancer; it’s not 100 percent clear. Doctors think it’s due to the bacteria present in your mouth that travel to other parts of your body. The bacteria destroys your gum tissue, forming pockets where infection thrives. This is what ends up in your bloodstream. It can get stuck in other sites around your body, causing inflammation that could lead to cancer.
As you can see, going to your dentist in Douglasville for regular checkups and cleanings is important, especially if you’re a woman who is aging gracefully. Call us today to schedule an appointment or hygiene cleaning. We can help answer any questions you might have about your gum health and taking care of your smile. Take the time to care for yourself and your oral health, and enjoy all of the benefits that come with it.