There are over 14 million root canals done yearly in the US. It all starts with the decay of the tooth. Then the pulp, I call the stuffing, goes down for the count with inflammation and rotting death of all the cells. The canal of the tooth has to be removed and the hole cleaned up. Why? Because it hopefully prevents you from losing the tooth. It starts with just one and the process can continue to decimate your entire enamel collection. Over 25% of those older than 65 have lost all of their teeth.
The primary dentist informs me of my tooth prognosis. This is a personal glimpse into tooth demise.
My mind was filled with thoughts of pain listening to my dentist speaking about going to a specialist for a consult concerning getting a root canal. Thoughts were free-flowing through my head like “usually I brush after meals”, “most times I rinse if I can’t brush”, “always floss at least once a day maybe more”, “no, I don’t scrape my tongue,” “could it be because I stopped using mouthwash because it contained saccharine and artificial colors? Have to start using Tom’s.” I was left at the end with a final thought of “oh fudge!” Then the dentist and I went on a negotiating phase. I said, “can we try to save the root Joanne?” I was trying to postpone the ultimate decision to leave her office and see a root yanking dentist. She said, “Rob, we can try, but it usually doesn’t work.” I remember her dental hygienist smiling at me, but shaking her head that meant no, Rob, it’s not going to work. So, we gave it a few weeks and just as they said, I was off to the “root man” to pull out my tooth’s umbilical cord. OMG! My poor fudging root.
First, I had to force every cell in by body to go for a root consult and then schedule an appointment for a root canal. The consult was cake. Next sitting in the chair for the root canal as my tooth’s final last rites was observed by the dentist. During the visit, the dentist cleans out the dead pulp and pulls out the root. He uses an antiseptic to sterilize the area. Then the opening is sealed up. The tooth is still there but its dead. I think of a tree stump in a yard that just sits out there in the dirt for years looking stupid. He tells me the dead tooth is used to preserve that space in my mouth. That is why dentists try not to yank any of our pearly whites. Normally, a root canal is supposed to last the life of the patient. Sadly, that isn’t always the case. This impermeable seal the dentist places to cap off the tooth doesn’t always stop internal decay. Within the dead tooth lurk bacteria that multiply and spread infection. That infection, may spread throughout the mouth. Renovating Your Mind, me, would like to stop this root canal scenario from ever happening again. Research is bringing a whole new dimension of pulp treatment into the realm of reality.
Into the future, circa 2015, stem cells allow the regeneration of pulp inside the tooth enamel allowing the growth of pulp cells, nerves and blood vessels to nourish the new growth. Therefore the tooth continues to flourish and we banish the root canal dentist to another innovative specialty.
The estimations are up to a decade before this scenario becomes a reality. I am willing to wait, to not go back to the “root man”. Please hurry dental scientists!!