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Las Vegas dentist answers, "What is a root canal?" for first-time patients

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For a patient facing a root canal for the first time, it may sound like a frightening experience. Dr. Christopher Lim of Hillside Dental in Las Vegas wants to provide an informative answer to the question that will be asked by an endodontic patient, "What is a root canal?" Hearing the facts from a trained professional will help alleviate fears due to misconceptions regarding the procedure.

A tooth is made up of two main parts - the crown which is visible above the gum, and the root which supports the tooth going into the bone below the surface. Four different tissues make up the tooth structure – enamel, dentin, pulp, and cementum. The enamel and cementum are on the outside of the tooth, and the dentin and pulp are found within. A root canal treatment targets the pulp chamber of the tooth, which houses the blood vessels and nerves. The pain falsely associated with a root canal procedure is actually what is corrected or prevented by this treatment. Pain results when this pulp area becomes inflamed or infected. In order to eliminate the problem and preserve healthy tooth function and structure, a root canal becomes necessary. Root canals are traditionally the preferred therapy, as the only other option at this point would be extraction, which would then require some type of replacement tooth.

A tooth that is damaged severely by decay, which has been treated multiple times already, or has a deep crack or fracture will likely need this type treatment. Dr. Lim is careful to listen to patient concerns and he always takes the steps necessary to avoid pain or discomfort for the patient during the procedure. We encourage a patient to discuss their concerns with us, because we truly care. In every case, local anesthesia will be administered to numb the tooth for a pain-free experience. The dentist and staff will use materials to isolate the tooth to ensure a sterile environment for the procedure.

The dentist will access the pulp chamber through a small drilled hole, and then use specialized tools to remove the tissues. When this is completed, anything that would cause pain or discomfort in this tooth will have been removed. The inside of the tooth is thoroughly cleaned to eliminate any bacteria. The tooth is then sealed to prevent future contamination. At this point, sometimes a filling will do, but generally, the tooth will require a crown to restore proper structure and function.

Regular dental exams can help prevent many complicated dental procedures. In many cases, these visits allow early detection so that problems may be remedied before resulting in pain. We want our patients to be well-informed, as knowledge generally makes things less intimidating. We encourage patients to ask any questions regarding care and procedures, as we are more than happy to answer them. Contact us today with any dental concerns you may have, or to schedule your next routine care appointment at Hillside Dental.