Everything You Need to Know About Root Canals
So, the time has come and your dentist has uttered the phrase you’ve been dreading the most, “You need a root canal”. If you’ve never had a root canal before, you’re probably wondering what this means and have a plethora of questions you can’t seem to get answered fast enough. Well, we’re here to help you understand the root canal process and put your mind at ease.
Here a few things you should know before undergoing your first root canal procedure. Hopefully with some knowledge you will be able to relax and realize that it’s not so scary after all.
What is a root canal?
First and foremost, you likely want to know what a root canal is. The phrase “root canal: actually has two meanings. A root canal is most commonly used to describe the dental procedure surrounding the treatment of a bacterial infection or inflammation occurring deep inside the tooth. A root canal is also a name for the area of the tooth itself: a hollow, narrow channel that runs from tip of the root to the pulp chamber in the center of the tooth. This area of the inner tooth houses blood vessels and nerves that nourished the tooth while it was growing. These tissues aren’t really necessary in adults – although they do allow the tooth to undergo certain stimuli such as feelings of pain, hot, or cold.
The tissues within the canals and pulp chamber can sometimes become infected or inflamed by bacteria. This can happen when a tooth is injured or when a cavity was not treated in a timely manner. A root canal treatment works to stop the infection and relieve pain.
In some cases, you can have a root canal problem without any symptoms of pain. If your dentist has identified that you have a root canal pain, you will want to get it taken care of as soon as possible. If you neglect it, it is very possible that the infection could get worse and you could lose a tooth.
Taking the Mystery Out of Root Canal Procedures
During the treatment of your root canal, our dentists at Downtown Dental will work to remove any and all infected pulp by drilling down into the affected tooth. He or she will clean, shape, fill-in, and seal the inside of your tooth in order to prevent any future issues.
In some cases, filling is all you need. Other cases may require a follow-up procedure in which they will place a crown on your tooth. A crown will serve to further protect your tooth so that you can continue chewing comfortably as you once were.
A root canal procedure takes time, but you will be comfortable and numb.
A root canal treatment can take up to a few hours, during which you will be seated in a dental chair with your mouth open. Although this can become uncomfortable, it is necessary. If your dentist allows for it, try listening to music or to a podcast to distract you and pass the time more quickly.
Here’s what you can expect during the procedure:
1. A local anesthesia will be used to numb you and keep you as comfortable as possible. Besides having to keep your mouth open, you shouldn’t feel a thing! Your dentist will start by applying a jelly like substance to numb your gums before injecting you with a local anesthetic to completely numb the entire area: you gums, teeth, skin, and tongue.
2. X-rays will most likely be taken to assist your dentist while he is working on the infected area. A rubber dam may be utilized to prevent contamination and any objects from getting into the throat and mouth.
3. The pulp will then be removed from the infected tooth using a drill and other dental tools. The area will then be filled with the appropriate filling.
4. If your dentist determines that you need a crown, a molding will be taken of your tooth once everything is removed. Your impression will be used to form a crown. In the meantime you may receive a temporary one.
What can I expect after my procedure?
While you may be ready to go back to eating and chewing as you normally would once your procedure it complete, your dentist may advise you to avoid certain foods until your custom-made crown has been placed over the affected tooth. The treated tooth is still fragile, and chewing could develop new cracks.
For a few hours after the procedure, your lips and gums could remain numb. Once the anesthetic has worn off you may experience pain, sensitivity, or soreness. This can last anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days, typically peaking between 17 and 24 hours following your procedure. When you sleep, keep your head as elevated as possible. If the pain is severe, your dentist may recommend the appropriate medication to take.
If after your root canal treatment you experience any of the following, contact our dentists at Downtown Dental right away:
- Uneven bit
- Signs of infection
- Allergic reaction
Getting a Root Canal Treatment Sooner than Later
If and when your dentist realizes that you need a root canal, don’t put the procedure off. Waiting to undergo your treatment could cause further damage and complications. Scheduling the appropriate treatment will help you get back to living a life without pain and chewing normally.
Root canals may seem a little frightening at first, but once you overcome your fear your dentist will be able to treat your tooth promptly and effectively. Once your tooth is treated, you’ll realize that it was all worth it when you experience the night and day difference of your mouth feeling better.
If you or a loved one has been told that they need a root canal, or you are experiencing pain in the mouth, don’t hesitate to call our experts at Downtown Dental today at (509) 413-0446.