Everything you need to know about a root canal and what to expect
If you’ve learned that you’re going to be one of these patients, you’re probably nervous. Don’t root canals cause pain? The good news is that the treatment isn’t as frightening as it’s been made out to be, and it’s often no more painful than getting a regular filling and it restores the health of your tooth in a conservative way.
Continue reading to learn everything you need to understand about root canals and what to expect when sitting in the dentist’s chair.
What Is A Root Canal?
A “root canal” is not a treatment, but rather a component of a tooth. A tooth is made up of a crown and roots. The crown is mostly visible above the gum, whereas the roots are mostly within the gum and bone below the crown. The roots are what connect the tooth to the jawbone.
The center of each crown and its roots have a hollow portion that contains pulp. Pulp is composed of nerve tissue, blood vessels, along with other cells that supply nutrients and are vital to the development of the tooth. The hollow portion in the center of each root is called a “root canal.”
When the tooth has a cavity or the pulp gets damaged, the pulp’s nerves may perceive hot and cold temperatures as pain. Chewing can also cause pain when surrounding structures of the tooth are infected.
Endodontic therapy, which means “therapy within the tooth,” is the term for the dental procedure generally referred to as a “root canal.” It is often also called as root canal therapy or root canal treatment by dental professionals.
Root canal treatment is performed to remove the pulp and root canal tissue and any deterioration from a tooth to reduce pain and eliminate an infection.
It was created to help dentists save natural teeth conservatively by avoiding having a tooth pulled and replaced with a dental implant.
Reasons You May Need To Have A Root Canal
The most common reason for root canals is that the cavity has progressed deep into the pulp of the tooth, which includes the blood supply and nerves. When a cavity reaches the pulp, it may cause a throbbing toothache, prolonged sensitivity to temperature change, or an abscess that is sometimes manifested as “gum pimple” in the gums at the bottom of the roots.
A cavity isn’t the only reason a tooth may require a root canal. If a tooth has had multiple dental treatments and a filling is now closer to the pulp, a root canal may be performed to alleviate pain and sensitivity. A root canal may also be required if a tooth is fractured or cracked.
A tooth “dies” when it no longer receives blood flow as a result of trauma, such as an accident. People who play sports and endure a mouth injury are more likely to suffer from tooth trauma. A root canal may be advised in certain instances.
Sometimes the symptoms are not noticeable even with active infection. It is important to see your dentist regularly to ensure the optimal health of your teeth routinely and to identify any issue as early as possible.
If an infected tooth is not treated, the infection’s bacteria can enter the bloodstream and spread to other regions of the body. This can lead to a serious disease or even death in the worst-case scenario. Because the infection cannot heal itself, it is critical to consult a dentist if you are having tooth pain, fractured tooth, swelling or drainage.
Tooth sensitivity or discomfort when biting down, chewing, or eating or drinking cold or hot foods or beverages are warning symptoms of a cavity and/or tooth infection. Swelling in the gum and fractured teeth may also need root canal therapy. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should make an appointment with a dentist right away.
Is A Root Canal Painful?
Root canal treatment is widely used and routinely performed to relieve tooth pain and save the natural tooth.
The most common misconception regarding root canals is that they are painful. In truth, the procedure is similar to getting a normal filling. Most people are terrified of having a root canal because they are currently in pain, but the discomfort will go away once the treatment is over.
To determine whether a root canal is required, a dentist will examine your problematic tooth and take an x-ray.
Your dentist will provide a local anesthetic to ensure your complete comfort before the root canal operation. Oral sedation may be administered if necessary. The dentist will numb the treatment area so that you only feel a tiny pinch when the needle is injected.
What Are The Steps Of A Root Canal?
Before commencing the root canal, your dentist will ensure that the area is entirely numb.
The dentist will carefully remove decay or infected pulp and clean out the tooth’s root canals using small thin files. To verify that the infection is gone, all inner chambers of the tooth will be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly.
Once the infection has been removed and the inside of the tooth has been cleaned, the dentist will then seal root canals with gutta-percha, a rubber-like filling substance. In addition, a temporary filling may be inserted into the tooth.
Because so much of the tooth’s structure has been removed, it is now more fragile and may need a permanent crown. Once the dentist preps your tooth for a crown, you will need to return to the dentist in a few weeks to be fitted for a crown and to confirm that the tooth has healed and that any infection has been removed.
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Will The Tooth Require Any Extra Care Following Treatment?
There may be mild discomfort on chewing or sore gum for a few days after the treatment. Your dentist will discuss possible tylenol or ibuprofen use if needed.
You should avoid chewing or biting on hard food with the treated tooth until it has been restored by your dentist. Because an unrestored tooth is prone to fracture, you should see your dentist as soon as possible for a full restoration. Otherwise, all you need to do is practice basic dental hygiene, which includes brushing, flossing, and getting regular examinations and cleanings.
The majority of root canal treated teeth last as long as natural teeth. In a few circumstances, the treated tooth may not recover or the pain persists. Sometimes, months or even years after successful treatment, the tooth becomes uncomfortable or unhealthy with recurrent infection. When this happens, your dentist will discuss options moving forward. Often, repeating the endodontic operation can often save the tooth.
What Causes A Previously Treated Tooth To Require Extra Treatment?
A new infection in your tooth can be caused by new trauma, extensive decay, gum disease, or a loose, cracked, or fractured filling. Your dentist may discover additional very small or curved canals that could not be addressed during the original treatment in some situations.
Can All Teeth Be Root Canal Treated?
The majority of teeth can be treated. A tooth may be lost because the root canals are inaccessible, the root is severely broken, the tooth lacks appropriate bone support, or the tooth cannot be repaired. However, innovations in dentistry are allowing people to save teeth that would have been gone just a few years ago. Discuss the treatment options with your dentist for the optimal outcome.
What Should You Expect Following A Root Canal?
Some individuals feel mild sensitivity and discomfort in the few days following a root canal, while others may experience an unequal bite or temporary filling dislodgement. A follow-up appointment is nearly always required, regardless of symptoms.
What Foods Can I Eat After Having A Root Canal?
Eat soft meals that need little chewing after a root canal, such as applesauce, yogurt, eggs, mashed potatoes, and fish. Avoid eating hard that could damage your teeth. Some dentists advise postponing eating for a few hours after the numbness in your mouth has worn off to avoid biting your face or tongue.
Is It Possible For A Root Canal To Kill A Tooth
A root canal does not harm the tooth, it rather removes infection and restores the tooth, and the tooth will be able to function normally when the root canal is completed. Root canal, on the other hand, removes the nerves within the tooth and replaces it with a filling substance. These nerves are vital for development of roots but serve little function in a fully grown tooth. A fully grown tooth will be sufficiently supplied with nutrients from the surrounding tissue.
Is It Possible For A Root Canal To Fail?
Although unlikely, root canal can fail for a variety of reasons, including recurrent cavity, a surgery that did not clean the canals due to complicated obstruction or curvature, a loosening of the crown or its inner cement, crack in the roots, or virtually anything that permits the previously treated tooth to get infected at the root and damage other teeth. Most root canal treated teeth last as long as natural teeth; however, consult your dentist if any discomfort around the root canal treated tooth is noticed.
What If You Don't Have A Root Canal?
If the infection in the tooth is not treated, it can spread to other areas of the body and, in some situations, be fatal. If you require a root canal, the affected pulp in your tooth must be removed to restore the health of your tooth.
Will My Tooth Discolor?
After a root canal, the tooth may become discolored overtime or acquire spots known as intrinsic stains, which occur when the tooth bleeds internally and the inner part of the tooth turns yellow or dark. Fortunately, the crowns can mask the discoloration effectively and the tooth can be whitened later on using internal (non-vital) bleaching.
Is A Root Canal Or Extraction Preferable?
Both options provide a way to remove infection from the tooth. When feasible, a root canal helps to keep a healthy, natural smile while prolonging the life of your own tooth and thus, more conservatively. The treatment and recovery time for a root canal is relatively short. Extraction and replacement of a tooth necessitates further treatments and procedures, and may have an influence on the neighboring teeth or supporting tissues. A consultation with a dentist can help you to decide the best treatment option for you.
How Much Does It Cost?
The cost of dental treatment varies greatly depending on the affected tooth and the difficulty of the surgery, although a root canal is generally inexpensive and most insurances provide some coverage.
The alternative option is extraction, which usually results in a higher cost for an implant or bridge to replace the tooth.
Extraction without replacing the tooth can result in a malocclusion, or crooked teeth, as well as chewing difficulties.
Are There Any Complications?
Complications can occur with any surgery.
- A dentist may discover only three root canals in a tooth that has four. If one of the canals is not treated, the infection may spread to the bone.
- The dentist must also ensure that the filling substance penetrates far enough into the canal to fill it. The infection may resurface if the root canal is not fully sealed.
- The root of the tooth may split during the procedure, or the instruments may break or perforate the canal. This makes it difficult to effectively fill the tooth.
- If difficulties arise, your dentist might attempt to resolve the issue and complete the root canal.
- Patients must always follow the dentist’s advice to avoid difficulties. If an antibiotic is required, the entire prescription must be completed.
- Once root canal therapy is completed, a permanent repair, such as a crown, must be installed.
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Care After The Procedure
After a root canal, you must still take good care of the treated tooth. That includes maintaining healthy dental hygiene habits like brushing twice a day, brushing after meals, and flossing at least once a day.
Make an appointment with your dentist every six months for a dental cleaning and exam to ensure that the tooth, and all of your teeth, are healthy and strong.
Avoiding Root Canals
By taking good care of your teeth, you can help prevent the need for a root canal therapy. This involves avoiding sweet or sticky foods, as well as brushing and flossing regularly. If you participate in sports, wearing a mouth guard can help lower the chance of tooth harm.
Visiting your dentist twice a year can also assist in ensuring that any issues with your teeth are detected early, preventing the need for more expensive and comprehensive treatment.
Schedule an appointment with us if you think you might need a root canal or if you’re due for a dental checkup so we can help keep your smile healthy and beautiful.