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Posted on: March 21, 2022
Uncover the Truth About Root Canal Treatment
Root canals are common dental procedures; about 15 million are performed every year in the U.S. Despite this, there are misconceptions about the procedure. People believe root canals are painful, which they are not. Actually, they relieve the severe pain a person feels if they need one. Some individuals don’t realize a root canal protects nearby teeth and the jawbone from infection and saves the tooth. There are other benefits as well, but to anyone in extreme pain, permanent pain relief is the primary advantage.
Why Did My Dentist Tell Me I Need a Root Canal?
Your dentist will recommend this treatment if the pulp inside your tooth is badly infected. This typically happens when you have untreated decay that managed to get through the outer enamel and the dentin in the middle of the tooth. Bacteria can also enter the pulp if you crack a tooth. If you don’t have your dentist remove the pulp inside the tooth with root canal therapy, the infection can spread. It may even damage the jawbone. An extraction is the only other alternative, but then you will have a gap in your smile, which can cause your teeth to shift and it may make it hard to chew. A dentist will always suggest preserving your natural tooth.
Signs You May Need a Root Canal
If you notice any of these symptoms, call your family dentist.
- Tooth pain, which is usually severe. This kind of pain will interfere with your daily life and make it difficult to eat.
- Red, swollen gums above the tooth. The gums will be noticeably red and inflamed. They may lessen but will not abate with OTC pain relief medication.
- An abscess. This is a serious infection and should be treated right away. Letting it get worse could lead to the infection spreading to other parts of the body.
- A pimple on the gum.
- Strong tooth sensitivity that takes a long time to go away. Most sensitivity will abate when the hot of cold item is not longer there.
- When you have a cavity, the sensitivity lasts much longer and may even occur if you breathe in a breath of cold air.
- A tooth which hurts if you apply pressure to it
- Persistent bad breath or foul taste in your mouth
- Swollen lymph nodes
- The tooth gets darker than the surrounding teeth
If you don’t have a regular dental professional, look for an affordable dentist in your community and schedule an exam.
What Should I Ask My Dentist Before Getting a Root Canal?
Understanding the procedure and knowing what to expect from root canal therapy will make you feel more comfortable. Here are the most common questions people ask their dentist.
- Is a root canal the best choice for me?
- Will my tooth hurt afterwards?
- Are there any other options, such as an extraction?
- What happens during a root canal procedure?
- How long will a root canal take?
- Will I need a local anesthetic?
- Are there any risks with root canal therapy?
- What do root canal procedures cost?
- Will my dental insurance cover all or part of the cost?
- How will my tooth hold up after a root canal?
A Step-by-Step Guide to the Root Canal Procedure
You’ve most likely visited a dentist because of the extreme pain you’re experiencing. He or she will carefully examine the tooth and take an x-ray. If your dentist can save the tooth with a root canal, he or she will explain the procedure outlined below.
Step 1 – Local Anesthetic
Your dentist will administer local anesthesia to numb the tooth and surrounding area. Teeth with severe infections may take a while to numb, but your dentist won’t begin the procedure until you can’t feel any pain.
Step 2 – Dental Dam
You’ll be fitted with a dental dam, which is a protective sheet that isolates the tooth and keeps saliva out while the dentist works. This shield also prevents the bacteria being removed from attacking other teeth nearby.
Step 3 – Removing the Pulp
Your dentist will drill a hole in the chewing surface of your tooth to access the pulp. He or she will use small instruments to remove the pulp. Once the pulp is removed, your dentist will clean the pulp canal and shape them.
Step 4 – Filling the Pulp Canals
Once clean and dry, the pulp canals are filled with gutta-percha, a bio-compatible, rubbery material that is then heated to seal it. Finally, your dentist will have a temporary filling to seal the access hole.
Step 5 – Your Next Appointment
You’ll make an appointment for several weeks later to get a crown placed over the tooth to protect it and give it strength.
Will I Have Pain After My Root Canal?
The tooth no longer has any nerves in it, however, the nerves in your gum may become a little painful after the local anesthesia wears off. Your jaw may also ache slightly from keeping it open for an hour. You can find relief from this minor discomfort with an over-the-counter pain reliever. The discomfort will only last a day or two. If you experience any prolonged or extreme pain, contact your dentist. This rarely happens, as root canals have a high success rate.
Is There Root Canal Aftercare?
There are only a few instructions your dentist will give you when you leave the office.
- Don’t eat anything until the local anesthetic wears off. You could accidentally bite your tongue, your fork or the inside of your cheek.
- Don’t bite or chew on the side where you had your root canal until you have your crown.
- Brush and floss as normal, but be gentle around the affected tooth.
- Call your dentist if you experience any nausea, vomiting or extreme pain.
Why You Can’t Skip the Final Restoration
Your root canal isn’t complete until you have a crown over the tooth. A beautiful crown from an affordable dentist will protect the tooth, which will be weaker after the root canal. If too much tooth structure is lost to decay, which is the most common reason people need root canals, a crown restores the tooth’s structural integrity. The crown also has an aesthetic benefit if the tooth darkened.