People talk about root canals like they're the worst experience in the world. How did they get this bad rap? Are root canals really that bad? In all actuality, the anticipation is probably worse than the procedure.
A dentist might consider giving you a root canal if the nerves inside the tooth are infected or inflamed. The first step is to drill into the tooth once you're properly numbed. Next, your dentist will use a specialized file to remove dead nerve tissue from the roots. Finally, your dentist will inject a rubber sealer to prevent bacteria from regrowing. The days following your root canal, you may feel some pain. Your dentist can prescribe medication for this.
After your root canal, you'll need a crown placed over your tooth to protect it from breaking. In some cases your dentist might recommend an inlay or onlay, which will displace less of your natural tooth. This procedure may take a couple visits, but it will be relatively painless.
Of course there are risks with any procedure. It's possible that the dentist's tool will break off in your root or that the dentist might miss some infected nerve tissue. If this happens, it may be necessary to redo the procedure or even remove the tooth. These kinds of mistakes are rare, but they happen. If you're nervous about something like that happening you should see an endodontist who specializes in root canals. He or she will likely have a great deal of experience in the procedure.
If it comes down to a choice between a root canal or having your tooth extracted, note that despite popular opinion, an extraction is much more difficult during and after the procedure. Even though an extraction is cheaper up front, going with a missing tooth can mess up the alignment of the rest of your teeth depending on where the hole is. A dental implant may solve this problem and give you a natural looking and functioning replacement, but it will be expensive.
Choosing between a root canal pulling your tooth is a big decision, and one you should consult your dentist on. Don't let everything you've heard about how terrible root canals are keep you from considering the option. If you can't abide the sound of drilling, most dentists and endodontists offer sedation dentistry.