The field of medicine is always advancing, and operations that used to be tricky and time-consuming are now faster, more precise, and end with fewer complications. Root canals were one of those things that patients never wanted to hear their dentist say, but thanks to new equipment and techniques it doesn’t have to be the long and painful journey it once was.
There are several ways technology is improving the operation:
• Dentists will use x-rays to check their progress and make sure they’re getting all the pulp out of a tooth. Modern digital x-rays use less radiation, plus the dentist can see the image immediately instead of waiting for it to develop.
• Nickel-titanium tooth files don’t break as often as steel files and they use the same kind of bio-safe alloy found in dental and bone implants. Since dentists don’t have to replace the file nearly as often, the root canal operation can go much faster.
• Surgical microscopes let dentists see the tooth up close and in fine detail, which means they don’t have to stop as often to get an x-ray.
• Some dentists are using lasers during root canals. The right kind of laser can heat up and weaken infected parts of the tooth without harming the healthy dentin and enamel, and this makes it easier to remove every infected part of the tooth so that nothing gets left behind under the filling material.
Speaking of filling materials, researchers are now looking at certain chemicals that encourage the stem cells in tooth pulp to create a new layer of dentin to replace what got lost to a cavity. If this biomaterial works the way it promises to, it can help prevent cavities from ever reaching the pulp, which is the point when you need a root canal.
Root canals will never be the fastest or simplest operations that take place at the doctor’s office, but thanks to new advances in medical technology you can get the whole thing done in one day and have less risk of complications afterwards. If you haven’t told your dentist about a toothache because you were worried about getting a root canal, you should let them know and take advantage of these advances.