A root canal is a treatment used to restore an infected tooth to its health by removing the infected or inflamed dental pulp and cleaning bacteria out of the canals before filling the tooth with gutta-percha.
Tooth infections can be caused by untreated tooth decay or dental trauma which causes the inside of your tooth (the pulp) to become inflamed. This soft inside portion of your tooth is connected to nerves and often causes significant pain. A tooth infection can only be cured by removing the source of the infection and because the surrounding tissues continue to nourish the tooth, it can survive without the existence of the dental pulp.
You should not eat after a root canal until the anesthetic has worn off.
Dr. Brookes will take x-rays of your tooth to determine if the pulp can be saved with a root canal or if it needs to be extracted.
After numbing your tooth, we will scrape out the infected dental pulp, including the roots.
Each of the tooth’s canals is cleaned and shaped.
Gutta-percha is used to fill the inside of the tooth and replace the dental pulp. A dental crown may be recommended if the tooth is a molar.
1 in 4 adults in the U.S. has at least one cavity.
The signs of a tooth infection include severe tooth pain, swelling of the gums and face, an abscess, discoloration of the tooth, tooth sensitivity (especially from consuming hot and cold foods/drinks), an exposed root, and tenderness of the gums. However, in cases where the pulp has died, you may not feel any pain. This does not mean that the infection is gone, it just means that the nerves in the tooth have died. This is why it’s important to get an x-ray done to determine if you need a root canal.
A root canal should heal within a few days to a week. You may experience soreness or tenderness around the affected tooth for a few days once the anesthetic wears off. This is the residual effect of drilling and cleaning the inside of the tooth, which can cause some inflammation.
Taking anti-inflammatory pain medication should alleviate this and reduce inflammation. Try to chew on the opposite side of your mouth and avoid hot drinks for the first 24 hours. Stick to soft foods in the first 24 hours and avoid hard, sticky, or crunchy foods. Some people rarely take up to 2 weeks to heal from a root canal.
No, root canals are painless procedures, however, you may feel a bit of pressure and movement during the procedure but not pain. This is because our dentists use local anesthetic to numb the mouth while performing a root canal. Sedation options and modern endodontic techniques also make for a more comfortable procedure.
However, it’s not uncommon for patients to experience mild discomfort following the surgery. They can easily manage the pain and any accompanying inflammation with store-bought painkillers like ibuprofen and anti-inflammatory medication.
You’ll feel immediate relief after the root canal treatment, but the root canal site might also feel tender and sensitive. Some people might experience slight swelling and inflammation, which they can manage with medication or an ice pack. You may also experience an uneven bite reaction, which goes away with time.
It’s important to take your medication as prescribed by the dentist. Follow-up dental visits are necessary to ensure proper healing of the root canal site. These visits also allow the dentist to pick up on any signs of infection early on before they get out of hand.
Root canals are easily avoidable with proper dental hygiene. This includes brushing your teeth twice daily and flossing them at least once a day to keep cavities at bay. You should also avoid hard and crunchy food if your teeth have a tendency to crack or chip easily.
Biting down on hard food can cause cracks and fractures in your teeth, making them prone to bacterial infections and eventual decay. Sugary foods are also not recommended. Regular dental visits also check for early signs of cavities and address infections before they get to the root and warrant a root canal.
Root canals are largely successful with 9 out of 10 teeth treated with root canals regaining normal function. However, the success of your root canal largely depends on the dentist responsible for the procedure. Only a licensed dentist with considerable experience can guarantee a successful root canal procedure. Sometimes you might need a crown after the root canal to strengthen the damaged tooth.
It’s worth noting that root canal aftercare is crucial for a successful root canal. Take proper care of your teeth after a root canal to avoid another root canal or a different treatment altogether.
The choice of which is better between a root canal and tooth extraction depends on your specific dental issue. A root canal is a better treatment option for cavities where the dentist can salvage the tooth. Plus, root canals have a better success rate than tooth extractions. However, in cases where the tooth is too damaged to be salvaged, your only option is tooth extraction.
You should not smoke while you are healing from a root canal.