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Root canal therapy demystified by Southwest Las Vegas dentist

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"I went to the dentist for a root canal, but I lost my nerve." It's an old joke that illustrates a few of the myths surrounding this dental procedure. Dr. Christopher Lim of Hillside Dental is the Southwest Las Vegas dentist you can count on for straight answers about root canal therapy.

Myth #1 – Treatment is called "a root canal."

The part of a tooth you see is called the crown. It is covered with a hard layer of enamel. Dentin underneath the enamel gives the tooth additional strength. However, the tooth is a living entity with roots that penetrate into the jawbone. Each root has a chamber filled with pulp that brings blood flow to the tooth. This chamber is called a "root canal." It houses a nerve that allows you to sense bite pressure and temperature. When the tooth is damaged by decay or trauma, bacteria make their way into the root canal. The procedure commonly called "a root canal" addresses this problem. However, it is properly termed "root canal therapy" or "endodontic treatment."

Myth #2 – Root canal therapy is painful.

Infection within the pulp chamber inflames the nerve, causing pain and pressure. It may develop gradually, or an abscess may suddenly appear, triggering swelling of the gum and cheek and acute pain. Root canal therapy relieves the discomfort. Dr. Lim gets you comfortable with pain relievers and antibiotics (if necessary). Then local anesthetic is administered to numb the area. The tooth is opened, which immediately alleviates pressure. The nerve is removed, the pulp chamber sterilized, and the tooth sealed. Endodontic treatment is no more uncomfortable than getting a filling – it just takes a little longer. Most patients recover quickly and manage residual discomfort with over the counter analgesics.

Myth #3 – Extraction is a better alternative.

Endodontic treatment allows you to save a natural tooth, which is the best option for several reasons. Root canal therapy eliminates bacteria from the root canal and essentially prevents re-infection. Extraction is more traumatic, potentially exposing the body to higher risk of bacteria entering the blood stream, and requiring more healing time.

Following root canal therapy, your tooth is restored with a porcelain crown that looks natural and re-establishes chewing function. The success rate is very high – most teeth treated in this manner last a lifetime. The gap from an extraction flaws your smile and allows other teeth to shift out of position, affecting your bite and ability to eat nutritious foods.

Endodontic treatment is also cost-effective compared to extraction and a dental implant or crown and bridge unit.

With Dr. Lim's gentle touch and natural artistry, you have nothing to fear from root canal therapy. Call Hillside Dental today at 702-666-8584 to get more facts about root canal from the Southwest Las Vegas dentist who cares.