LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Just hearing the words "root canal" can make some people cringe. And decades ago, there was good reason: pain and several dental visits. But, as we show you in this Healthcast, technology is changing the way root canals are done.
Tooth pain and sensitivity brought Carl Dugas to the Lafayette dental office of Dr. Tony Rainwater for his first root canal - something that he was not particularly looking forward to. "I'm very nervous," says Dugas, "just mostly the old time thinking that root canals take two visits, they're very painful, take a long time to do."
This old time thinking has some validity, though. Root canals were painful, did take a couple of hours...and most of the time one appointment didn't cut it. But times have changed and so has dental technology. "The first thing is the fear of pain," says Dr. Rainwater, "we have developed in the last decade better anesthetic techniques."
And centering in at the "root" of the problem is now clear with digital x-rays. "I can actually show a patient this x-ray and kind of briefly explain to them, 'this is why we have a problem,' it's so much easier than holding up the little tiny film and trying to point and show to a patient what's going on," says Dr. Rainwater.
The time has also been cut down to less than 45 minutes from start to finish. Dr. Rainwater explains, "What we do is after we anesthetize, I go in and my technique is like any of them, to clean the tooth out and get rid of infection, get rid of the mad nerve or the tissue that's causing problems."
While this technique is much like that of the past, the tools are now smaller, more efficient and anesthetics can now get through the bone and into the area where the tooth is - meaning less discomfort for the patient.
"Pain is a driving force with people not coming back," says Dr. Rainwater, "if they're hurt, they will not come back."
So, what does Carl Dugas have to say about his experience? "The expectation was much worse than the actual procedure," he says, "it was just a little bit of pressure, no pain."
After the procedure, Dugas said he was heading back to work for the rest of the day at Acadian Ambulance. In a couple of days, he will get a permanent filling put on his tooth - which is a very minor procedure.