The Truth about What to Expect with a Root Canal
Everything You Need to Know About Root Canals
What Is a Root Canal?
Many patients who need a root canal may be nervous or apprehensive about the procedure. However, if you know what to expect with a root canal, it doesn’t have to be scary. At Peace Haven Family Dentistry, your dental care and your comfort are our top priority.
Most often, a decayed tooth can be repaired with a standard filling. However, if a tooth is severely decayed to the roots and/or abscessed, a root canal treatment—usually performed by a dentist or endodontist—may be the only way to save your remaining tooth.
If your tooth is badly decayed including the root and you don’t get a root canal, your tooth will become more infected and become abscessed (pus-filled pockets in your gums). You may also experience facial swelling, bone loss, and drainage from the affected tooth. As with any health issue, it’s always best to take care of it before it gets worse. The good news is that root canals have a very high success rate.
What Happens During a Root Canal?
An X-ray is taken to determine the shape of your root canal and to check for any infection in your surrounding bones. Then the first thing your dentist will do is to make you as comfortable as possible during the procedure. After the dentist numbs your tooth, he/she will need to keep the area dry and free of saliva during the procedure. A small piece of rubber (called a rubber dam) is placed over the tooth to separate it from the surrounding teeth.
Your dentist will drill an opening in the affected tooth and remove all of the decay and bacteria as well as the tooth pulp, decayed nerve tissue, and any debris. The next step is to clean out the root areas (canals) of your tooth so that the dentist can remove the damaged roots.
In some instances, your dentist may want to wait one or two weeks after this step to ensure that no further infection occurs. In this case, your dentist will place a soothing medicine inside of your tooth and seal it with a temporary filling material.
The final step of a root canal is to fill the exposed root canals with a non-toxic rubber filling. This can often be completed in the same visit. Once this step is complete, the dentist will fill the affected tooth with a composite, just as you would for a standard dental filling.
What You Can Expect During Your Root Canal
Once the local anesthetic is applied, you may actually feel very little pain—even no pain—since the root of your tooth may already be dead. If you’re still nervous or scared at the time of your procedure, Peace Haven Family Dentistry offers other sedation options to help you stay calm and comfortable throughout your root canal.
After Your Root Canal
Post procedure, your tooth may be brittle and dry and easy to break. So, a crown is typically recommended in order to fully restore your tooth. This can be scheduled as a follow-up procedure a few weeks later.
You may also experience sensitivity in the affected tooth. This may be due to the infection that is clearing up, gum inflammation, or any previous pain. A simple over-the-counter pain medication should be all you need until your tooth fully heals. Of course, if your pain increases or continues, call your dentist.
Alternatives to Root Canal
It’s possible that even after a root canal, infection can return. In such cases, another root canal may be necessary, or the tooth may need to be removed altogether. If a tooth does need to be removed, your dentist will create a bridge, a partial, or a dental implant to fill the gap of the missing tooth. If the space is left empty, your teeth can move and shift, becoming crooked over time. So, it’s best to take steps to preserve your natural smile as well as the form and function of your teeth.
How to Prevent a Root Canal
Proper care of your teeth is essential in preventing a root canal or any other tooth damage. Brush twice each day, floss daily, and visit your dentist every six months or as recommended to keep your teeth as healthy as possible and to catch any problems early.
If you have any questions or concerns about a root canal or any other upcoming dental procedure, please feel free to call or visit us in advance. We are happy to take the time with you so that you can be as comfortable as possible before, during, and after any dental procedure.
Wondering what to expect with your root canal?
Call our caring team of experts. We’ll be at your side every step of the way.
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