A few decades ago, a root canal treatment simply meant torture for the patient. Most probably, this is why so many adults fear so much going to the dentist for root canal treatments.
However, nowadays the root canal treatments are painless and thanks to the technology and instruments used by the dentist, root canals are highly efficient too. Root canal treatment, or endodontic therapy as it is also called is actually the treatment of the pulp of the tooth, in order to eliminate infection and then “seal” the tooth so that it will be not exposed to further microbial infectious.
When a tooth is so much infected that it would normally have to be extracted, the dentist can actually save that tooth with the help of proper root canal treatment. Quite a few years back, dentists could only offer as numbing agent the well known Lidocaine (or Novocaine).
For many patients this didn’t help, because they wouldn’t go completely numb and they have felt most of the pain associated with the treatment. Nowadays, there is a very large palette of anesthetics available, and for people struggling with dental phobia, there is sedation dentistry, which is extremely helpful.
Then, a few years back the root canal files have been made of stainless steel. The problem was that steel is not flexible, and the instrument wasn’t able to bend properly and follow the shape of the root canal. Stainless steel files have been associated with a lot of pain, mainly because the file would force its own way through the tooth structure, and many times the treatment ended up with broken teeth.
Nowadays, modern root canal treatment instruments include the extra flexible file made of titanium. This metal can bend perfectly in order to follow the exact shape of the root canal. Titanium files are also extra durable, so they will not break like the old stainless steel files.
A few years back, in order to see where to end the root canal filling, a dentist would check out the dental X-ray. The problem was that often times the dentist wasn’t able to find the exact spot, so it could happen that the filling went out of the tooth, or the material was not filling up the entire cavity, creating a “blank” space which became the best haven for bacteria to grow.
Nowadays, dentists are using extremely modern equipment in order to find where to end exactly the filling. The wonder instrument is called an apex locator, which uses sound wave technology. Whenever the dentist gets to the real end of the canal, he will get a sound from the apex locator, so he will know that he needs to end with the filling.
These are only a few pieces of the new technology used in root canal treatment, but other include the high torque hand pieces which are motorized instead of using the traditional ones with compressed air or the use of non allergenic endodontic sealants that will not cause any irritations whatsoever.