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Root canal. Over the years, those two words have struck fear in the hearts of dental patients. Indeed, for some time root canals have been the butt of jokes and the source of anxiety for people the world over. But the truth is that there are times when a root canal can save a tooth. In years gone by teeth that we can save today would have been extracted. Root canals changed that.

The pulp of your tooth, which is located in the root, is extremely important. It contains the nerves and the blood vessels that connect your tooth to your jaw. If your tooth is compromised by trauma or by disease, the pulp can become infected. That infection can cause pain and swelling as well as damage to your jawbone as the infection spreads. While the pulp is important to the tooth, the tooth itself can remain without the pulp, provided the infection is removed.

In a root canal, the dentist will access the pulp with a small drill and use an instrument to remove it. After the diseased pulp has been removed, the dentist will rinse and disinfect the root chamber to ensure that all of the pulp has been taken out and that the infection has been neutralized. The dentist may then enlarge the root chamber so that he can insert a material called gutta percha, which will fill the space left by the pulp. The dentist will place a temporary seal on your tooth, and schedule an appointment with you to check your progress and place a permanent crown on your tooth.

If your dentist prescribes a pain reliever anti-inflammatory or antibiotic, be sure to follow his instructions about using the medication. If you were not given a prescription for pain, you can use an over-the-counter pain reliever; and if needed, or a cold compress to reduce any swelling. If you experience sweating, chills, nausea, or persistent pain or swelling, contact the dentist’s office right away.

If you have a tooth that has been giving you trouble, don’t put off a visit to the dentist. If you live in the Battle Creek, Michigan, area, you can make an appointment to see Dr. L. C. Chilimigras at Lakeview Dental Care by calling 269-964-7660.