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Did you know that tigers get root canals, too? Not at our dental office! Talk about dental anxiety! We don’t treat any jungle cats here, but we are happy to treat scaredy-cats (and we treat them very well).

In 2012 a Siberian tiger named “Sayan,” from the Yorkshire Wildlife Park, had a toothache. A brave dentist who is specially trained to treat big cats helped Sayan with a root canal treatment!

Tigers are threatening, but root canals shouldn’t be. Even so, root canals are still widely dreaded today, though for no good reason. The American Association of Endodontists (AAE) says root canal treatment doesn’t cause pain, it relieves it. As with many other “emergency” dental procedures, patients mistakenly associate the painful experience of their oral ailment with the dental procedure itself.

The AAE assures patients that with modern technologies and anesthetics, the root canal treatment itself is no more uncomfortable than having a filling placed. The American Dental Association calls a root canal a relatively simple procedure that causes little or no discomfort.

So, what occurs during a root canal?

Here is a simplified description of the root canal treatment: Each tooth in your mouth is a living thing that has blood vessels and nerves. If a tooth decays badly enough that a deep cavity forms, or if the tooth is cracked or broken, then the tissue inside the tooth (the pulp) can become infected. If the tooth becomes inflamed or diseased, then it begins to swell and this causes pain.

A damaged tooth can be kept or “saved” by using a root canal procedure, which is when the damaged tissue is removed and the tooth is cleaned and sealed. Removing the diseased pulp is what relieves the tooth pain.

A tooth could still develop cavities, even without its nerve, but if the patient practices effective dental hygiene, the repaired tooth can last a lifetime.

Therefore, if you ever need a root canal treatment, remember to be brave like Sayan, the Siberian tiger! Tigers and dentistry … the combination gives a whole new meaning to the dangers of getting bitten by the patient.