If you are a little nervous about getting a root canal, you are not alone.  There are many dental patients who have anxiety about procedures like root canals.  What most patients do not know is that dentists can use sedation dentistry to make root canals more comfortable.  If you have been told that you need a root canal due to an injury or decay, but have been putting it off because of anxiety or fear of pain, it could have serious consequences.  You could end up with an infection or abscess if you delay the procedure.  So, read further as we discuss what a root canal is, why they are important for your oral health, and if your dentist can put you to sleep for a root canal. 


Root Canals: What They Are and Why They Are Necessary

As mentioned above, if a tooth or teeth become injured or diseased, a root canal may be suggested to save them.  Also, a tooth may look like one solid piece, but teeth have many layers.  The two main parts of a tooth are the root and the crown.  The crown is the top piece that you can see, and the root is part of the tooth below the gum line that goes into the jaw bone.  The crown of the tooth also contains the pulp chamber, which goes to the tip of the root in what is called the root canal.  There may be more than one root canal in each root.  Root canals contain the dental pulp, which is made up of blood vessels and nerves, and they extend all the way to the tip of each root.  Sometimes, the pulp becomes infected and that is when a root canal may be suggested.  Root canal therapy is a dental procedure that attempts to remove the inflamed dental pulp from the canal.  After the root canal, the dentist will place a temporary crown on the tooth.  You may have to return for another appointment to have a permanent crown placed, which will protect the tooth from future damage.  

A root canal can be a lengthy procedure, and it deals with the roots of the teeth which can be painful and sensitive.  These reasons make it likely that a person with dental anxiety would want to put off the root canal.  But, you should know that there are many options for dental sedation that can help manage both pain and nerves.  For a root canal, a patient can opt to get nitrous oxide, oral conscious sedation, and IV sedation.  And, the sedation method chosen will vary from patient to patient. It is determined by the person’s medical history current overall health.  

The Different Types of Dental Sedation

As mentioned above, there are various methods of dental sedation available to a person having a root canal.  Below are the different kinds of dental sedation…

  1. Nitrous Oxide: This is the mildest type of sedation. It can help with nerves and pain management, but it wears off without any residual effects, which means you can drive yourself home afterward. 
  2. IV Sedation: There are two types of IV sedation available. Twilight IV sedation makes you relaxed but unaware of your surroundings.  General anesthesia is more uncommon for use for a root canal because it puts you to sleep for the whole procedure.  It is more commonly used for oral surgery.  It is also less likely because general anesthesia requires an anesthetist or anesthesiologist to administer it.  Generally, this type of sedation is used in a hospital or specialized clinic.  
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