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Posted on: March 21, 2022
Uncover the Truth About Root Canal Treatment
There’s an old saying, “I’d rather have a root canal.” It’s mainly heard from older people who can remember root canal treatments from the past. Unfortunately, the saying scares people off from investigating the procedure when they’re experiencing severe tooth pain. The truth is, the pain when you need a root canal is far, far worse than anything you would feel during or after the treatment. Root canals save teeth, remove infections and stop the pain. Keep reading to learn more about the procedure.
Why Do Patients Need Root Canal Treatment?
Our teeth have three layers. The enamel on the outside protects the tooth. Next is the dentin, and on the inside, the pulp. Pulp contains blood vessels, tissue and nerves. If an infection reaches the pulp, which extends in to the roots, you’re likely to experience intense pain since this is where the nerves are. There is also a chance the infection can spread. Bacteria can get in the pulp from deep cavities or trauma to the tooth. When you have root canal therapy, the dentist removes the pulp from the crown and roots of your tooth to stop the pain and keep the infection from spreading. You don’t need the pulp as an adult, so it won’t harm the tooth to remove it.
What Are the Signs You Need to Talk to Your Dentist About a Root Canal?
Only a dentist can determine if you need a root canal, but most people experience the following symptoms:
- Extreme pain
- Intense sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages that lasts long after the stimulus is gone
- Red, swollen gums
- Swelling of the cheek or jaw
- A bad taste in your mouth
- Swollen lymph nodes
- A fever
- A tooth that hurts when you apply slight pressure
- The tooth may appear gray
10 FAQs About Root Canal Procedures
Make sure your affordable dentist, or his or her team, answer these questions to your satisfaction.
- Do you believe I’m a good candidate for root canal therapy?
- Do I have any other options?
- Will I still experience pain afterwards?
- What happens during my root canal procedure?
- How long will it take to completely heal?
- Do I need a local anesthetic or something stronger?
- Can anything go wrong?
- How strong will my tooth be once I get my crown?
- Are root canals affordable?
- Will my dental insurance pay for part of the cost?
Step-by-Step Root Canal Therapy
When you visit a dentist, usually because the intense pain, he or she will talk to you about your symptoms. Next, the dentist will examine your teeth and take an x-ray to find the canals containing the pulp. You’ll also answer questions about your medical history and current medications. If you need a root canal, your dentist will explain the procedure and answer your questions. The typical procedure goes like this:
Step 1 – Pre-Procedure Work
You’ll receive a local anesthetic to numb the tooth and surrounding area. If you have a severe infection, keep in mind that the tooth will take longer to get numb than if you were just having a cavity filled. A dental assistant will also fit you with a dental dam to isolate the are where the dentist will work. This keeps saliva out of the root chambers.
Step 2 – Removing the Pulp
Your dentist will have to drill a small hole in the chewing surface of your tooth to reach the pulp. He or she will use small dental files to remove the pulp. Once the pulp is gone, he or she will flush the canals to remove any remaining bacteria.
Step 3 – Filling the Canals
After your root canals are clean and dry, your dentist will fill them with a rubberlike substance called gutta-percha, a rubbery substance which is biocompatible. Your dentist will press the substance against the canal walls and then heat it to ensure there is nowhere for bacteria to hide. The access hole is sealed with a temporary filling.
Step 4 – Deciding on the Final Restoration
You’ll need a final restoration to fully restore your smile. In most cases, this a crown, also known as a cap. You can have this done several weeks after your root canal procedure. In some cases, depending on where the tooth is, a permeant filling or overlay might be enough to restore the tooth to its fully functional state.
Expect the procedure to take 30 to 90 minutes. Your dentist can give you an estimate of how long the procedure will take, as it depends on how many canals the tooth contains.
Should I Feel Discomfort After a Root Canal?
You may feel a little bit of pain afterward, but it should only last a few days. An over-the-counter pain reliever should be enough to mitigate the pain. The tooth does not have nerves anymore, so the pain is nothing like the pain you felt before the procedure. It’s just nearby nerves that may have become irritated during the procedure. If the discomfort lasts longer than a few days, or the pain is bad, contact your dentist.
What Will Help Me Heal After a Root Canal?
You can aid your healing by:
- Avoid smoking for a few days before your procedure and for a few days afterward. Tobacco inhibits the body’s healing ability.
- Eat a healthy meal before your procedure. Your mouth will be numb afterward, making it tricky to eat.
- Chew on the other side of your mouth until you have a crown placed over the tooth.
- If your dentist prescribes antibiotics to take before your procedure, be sure to take them as directed.
After Your Root Canal Therapy?
Once the pulp is removed and the canals are filled, you’ll need a crown to cover your tooth. A crown is a cap that literally covers your entire tooth. A strong, beautiful crown will give your tooth strength. An affordable dentist will create a crown that blends in perfectly with your other teeth.