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Over the years, root canals have gotten a bad reputation. People make jokes about root canals, and hearing a dentist say those two words can cause the heartiest of dental patients to panic. But the truth is that root canals are an important and very useful aspect of dental medicine, and have saved many teeth that in years past, would have had to be extracted.

A root canal is needed when a tooth is damaged by trauma or disease, and the pulp of the tooth has become infected. The pulp is needed to keep your tooth healthy, since it contains the tooth’s nerves and blood vessels. But the structure of the tooth can survive without the pulp and can support a crown.

To perform a root canal, your dentist will use a drill to access the root chamber. The dentist will remove the damaged pulp and the nerve of the tooth. Then, he will clean the chamber with an antiseptic solution to remove any leftover decay and neutralize the remaining bacteria. Afterward, the dentist will enlarge the chamber before inserting a material called gutta percha, which will take the place of the missing pulp. After placing a seal on your tooth, the dentist will make an appointment to for a follow-up examination, and to discuss what steps to take next. The dentist may give you a prescription for a pain reliever, an anti-inflammatory or an antibiotic. You should take any prescription medication as directed by your dentist. If you start to feel nauseous, develop a fever, or experience sweating or shaking, contact the dentist right away.

If you have a tooth that has been giving you trouble, don’t put off calling Steven Wolfson, DDS in Houston, Texas, to schedule an appointment with Dr. Steven Wolfson. You can reach our office by calling 713-893-4288.