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Uncover the Truth About Root Canal Treatment

Root canals are misunderstood dental treatments. Many people dread hearing they need one, mainly because they believe it will be painful. Fortunately, this isn’t true due to modern technology and advancements in dental procedures. Dentists ensure their patients are numb before they start, and that they feel comfortable with how the procedure will go. Having a root canal actually stops pain. A root canal also lets you keep your natural teeth in stead of having to extract them and replace them with artificial teeth.

When Is a Root Canal the Right Treatment?

Dentists recommend root canals when the pulp inside a tooth becomes infected. The pulp extends into the roots of a tooth via canals and it contains the nerves. This is what makes an infection or inflammation so painful. To preserve the tooth, dentists remove the pulp. Otherwise, the infection can spread to other teeth and the jawbone. Bacteria gets in the pulp when a person has a deep cavity, an existing filling is cracked, or when there was trauma to the tooth.

You can do your best to prevent needing a root canal by visiting the dentist regularly and practicing good dental hygiene. By avoiding cavities and other damage to your teeth, you may go your whole life without needing a root canal.

What Are the Warning Signs I Need a Root Canal?

While a few people have no warning signs, these are the most common:

  • Tooth pain ranging from mild to severe
  • Extreme tooth sensitivity, even when the stimulus is removed
  • Jaw or cheek swelling
  • Gum tenderness
  • Graying or darkening of the tooth
  • The tooth hurts when pressure is applied
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • A foul taste in the mouth

If you have these symptoms, see an affordable dentist for an exam. It’s important that you don’t let these symptoms become more advanced.

10 Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Root Canal Therapy

Here are some questions to ask your dentist during your exam when discussing root canal therapy:

  1. Can you preserve my tooth without a root canal?
  2. How will I feel after you’re done?
  3. Do I have any other treatment options?
  4. What is involved in root canal therapy?
  5. How long will it take until my tooth is restored?
  6. What type of anesthetic will I need?
  7. Is the treatment risky?
  8. Will my tooth be fully functional?
  9. How much does a root canal cost?
  10. Will my dental insurance cover the procedure?

A Step-by-Step Guide to the Root Canal Procedure

If your dental exam and x-rays reveal you need a root canal, your dentist can usually perform it immediately. He or she will have suspected you need root canal therapy when you described your symptoms while making the appointment. Your dentist will numb your tooth and the surrounding area, so you won’t feel any pain. If the pulp is badly infected, you may need to take antibiotics prescribed by your dentist and come back to start the procedure in a few days. The antibiotics will also help with the pain.

Accessing the Pulp

Your dentist will isolate your tooth with a thin vinyl sheet with a hole in it before the procedure begins, after verifying the anesthetic is working and you are numb. The dental dam gives your dentist a clean area to work on and no bacteria from your mouth gets into the tooth. He or she will drill a hole in the tooth, usually on the chewing surface or on the back of the tooth to reach the pulp.

Removing the Pulp

Using special instruments, your dentist will remove the pulp. He or she will also disinfect the canals, making sure they are clean. Next, your dentist will shape the canals to hold a filling and then flush them out again.

Filling the Now Empty Canals

The clean and empty canals are filled with a biocompatible material that is heated to make sure it completely fills the canals. Finally, your dentists puts a temporary filling in the space he or she drilled to remove the pulp.

It typically takes two appointments to have root canal therapy. The initial appointment is for the procedure itself and the subsequent one is to have a crown put on to cover the tooth and protect it. Expect the first appointment to take between 30 and 90 minutes. Larger teeth take longer than front teeth since they have more canals. It does not take long at all to get a crown.

Is There Pain After a Root Canal Treatment?

Fortunately, there is only minor discomfort, such as sensitivity or tenderness. An OTC pain reliever should take care of this and the discomfort will only last a day or two. If you have strong pain, contact your dentist.

How Can I Heal Faster After Root Canal Therapy?

You can:

  1. Avoid biting into or chewing anything hard with your affected tooth until you get your crown. Your tooth will be sensitive and it’s important that you protect it as well as you can.
  2. Don’t eat until the local anesthetic wears off. It’s easy to bite your tongue if you can’t feel anything.
  3. Contact your dentist if you are experiencing any acute pain or other extreme symptoms. If your pain cannot be regulated with OTC pain relief medication, contact your dentist right away.
  4. Keep up with your dental hygiene, but be gentle with the tooth that has a temporary filling. Also, make sure to continue with your regular dental appointments. You want to make sure you avoid any other dental issues and your dentist is the best partner to help make that happen.
  5. Quit smoking. Smoking increases your chances of an infection after the procedure and it takes your body longer to heal when you smoke.

Follow-Up Care After Root Canal Therapy

A crown is typically placed over the tooth once the root canal is done. Your dentist can take an impression and start the process of having the crown made specifically for you after you get your temporary filling. The crown will protect the tooth and make it strong once again.

Root canal therapy does not have to be scary. In fact, it will most likely relieve some of the pain you are already feeling. If you are nervous, contact your dentist and explain your situation, they will be happy to help.

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