Once a tooth is damaged or infected, a root canal can be done to repair it. The damaged part of the tooth is removed. The area is cleaned and disinfected before the tooth is filled and sealed. Often pain is associated with root canal procedures. This is not always the case, as often a root canal provides necessary relief for a patient with an infection. Find out more about what to expect during and after a root canal.
What Leads to a Root Canal
The damaged area inside the tooth is called the pulp. This live part of a tooth can cause extreme pain when infected. The pulp in a tooth can be affected because of a deep cavity, a cracked tooth, ongoing dental treatment to the tooth, or a trauma to the tooth. During a root canal, the canals inside the root of a tooth care cleaned. An x-ray is done by the dental office to see inside the tooth and determine if a root canal is needed. Sometimes a person will experience no pain but still needs a root canal to get rid of the decay.
What Happens During a Root Canal
Once the dentist states a root canal is necessary, another office visit is scheduled to perform the initial procedure. It can take a few office visits to complete a root canal procedure. During the next appointment, local anesthesia is administered to the tooth that requires a root canal. The tooth is opened to remove the diseased pulp. This procedure is called a pulpectomy. In most instances, a root canal is no more painful than getting a tooth filled.
After the affected pulp is taken out, the roots that were opened are filled and sealed. While the tooth will no longer feel sensitive to hold and cold, the area around the root canal can be sensitive after the procedure. Sometimes medication is prescribed or recommended to help minimize the inflammation.
Why Are There More Appointments?
A root canal is done to save the tooth, not extract it. The canals inside the tooth are cleaned and shaped. Pulp and nerve tissue are removed to get rid of the bacteria. But the rest of the tooth remains intact. After the pulpectomy, a temporary filled is placed to protect the root. During a future appointment, a permanent filling or crown is done so bacteria will not leak into the canal and cause additional dental problems. A properly treated tooth can last for years to come.
What Should Patients Do After a Root Canal?
Usually, any discomfort after a root canal only lasts for a couple of days. The dentist advises the patient about the proper care after a root canal. Sometimes medication is prescribed. This might include an antibiotic to combat infect before the procedure and medication to reduce pain or inflammation after the root canal. In some instances, the patient might want to rest for a day after the root canal. Typically, people can resume their normal routines unless advised otherwise.
Once the root canal is performed, it is important to practice conscientious oral hygiene to avoid tooth decay, losing a tooth, and root canals to other teeth. Brush twice daily and floss at least once each day to prevent issues in the future. Avoid biting into hard foods that can break the teeth and cause injury to root canals. Visit the dentist for regular exams and cleanings.
While some people dread a root canal, it is a relatively painless procedure done to save a tooth. This means it can reduce the risk of more painful procedures in the future, such as extraction. Patients can enjoy a healthier, more attractive smile after a root canal.