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Uncover The Truth About Root Canal Treatment

Root canal therapy is one of the most common dental procedures; dentists perform about 15 million root canals each year in the United States. Despite being common, there is a lot of misinformation surrounding root canal treatment. Most people think that root canals are very uncomfortable, but they’re actually not. The procedure actually relieves severe pain instead of causing it. You’ll only feel mild discomfort for a day or two after the procedure.

If you wait too long to receive a root canal, it’s possible for the infection to spread to your jawbone or other parts of your body. You could also end up losing the affected tooth, which can be a costly and time-consuming ordeal. Find out why you shouldn’t panic if your dentist tells you that you need a root canal.

Root Canal Treatment Explained

Dental professionals perform root canals when a tooth’s pulp is badly infected. For many patients, this happens when there is deep tooth decay caused by untreated cavities or the tooth is traumatically injured. During root canal therapy, the pulp is removed to eliminate the infection. If you need a root canal and delay receiving treatment, it’s possible for the infection to spread. Not receiving treatment can lead to an extraction, but dentists always prioritize saving natural teeth when possible.

How Do I Know I Need a Root Canal?

Here are the most common warning signs that root canal treatment is necessary:

  • Intense tooth pain that prevents you from sleeping
  • Swollen, tender gums near the affected tooth
  • The affected tooth darkens or looks gray or discolored
  • A tooth that hurts when you apply pressure
  • A pimple or abscess on the gum
  • Persistent bad breath or foul taste in your mouth
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Don’t delay making an appointment if you develop any of these symptoms; get to a dentist as soon as possible. If left ignored, these symptoms won’t get better. Rather, they will worsen over time.

Questions to Ask Your Dentist About Root Canal Treatment

If your dentist tells you that you need root canal therapy, it’s important to take the time to thoroughly discuss the treatment process with your dentist. Your dentist wants you to feel comfortable before beginning treatment, and he or she will be happy to answer any questions you have. These are some of the most common questions asked about root canal therapy:

  1. Am I a suitable candidate for root canal treatment?
  2. Is there any other procedure that has the same effectiveness as a root canal?
  3. What steps are involved in the procedure?
  4. How long will the procedure take?
  5. Will I receive anesthesia before the procedure?
  6. Is there pain after root canal treatment?
  7. Are there any risks?
  8. Will my natural tooth be as strong as my other teeth after I get my crown?
  9. What is the average cost of root canal treatment?
  10. Does my insurance cover root canals and crowns?

What Are the Procedural Steps for a Root Canal?

During your dental visit, you’ll describe your symptoms to your dentist. You’ll also discuss your medical history and talk about any medications you’re currently taking. Your dentist will take x-rays and examine your teeth to determine if you can benefit from root canal therapy. Your treatment will go something like this:

Preparing for the Procedure

The procedure starts with your dentist numbing your mouth with a local anesthetic. Once the area is numb, your dentist places a dental dam, or protective sheet, in your mouth. This isolates the treatment area and provides the dentist with a sterile environment.

Removing the Pulp

Your dentist drills a tiny hole on the surface of the tooth to gain access to the pulp tissue. Using tiny files, your dentist removes the infected pulp. The tooth is flushed with an antibacterial rinse. Then, your dentist shapes the canals to ensure they hold the filling material.

Pulp Replacement

The damaged pulp is replaced with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. After heating this biocompatible material, it’s molded against the sides of the canals. This keeps bacteria from invading the tooth. After, a temporary filling is placed over the hole made to access the tooth’s pulp.

Restoring the Tooth

You’ll make another appointment to return to your dentist’s office for a permanent dental crown. Your dental crown is individually made to fit the shape of your tooth. Once placed, it strengthens the tooth and prevents it from sustaining additional damage.

Is There Any Discomfort After a Root Canal?

You’ll have some tenderness after your procedure, but you won’t have the same level of pain as you did before receiving root canal treatment. Any discomfort usually lasts only a few days. Ask your dentist about which over-the-counter pain relievers can ease your discomfort. If you develop extreme pain or if it’s prolonged, call your dentist as soon as you can. Although rare, these symptoms may indicate serious complications.

How Can I Help My Tooth Heal After a Root Canal?

If you follow your dentist’s instructions, you’ll have a quick healing period without any complications. These are the instructions you’ll receive when you leave your dentist’s office:

  • Don’t eat anything until your anesthetic wears off. If you try to eat while your mouth is still numb, you might bite your cheek or tongue, causing damage.
  • Continue to practice good oral hygiene. It’s crucial that you brush and floss daily, just be gentle around the treated tooth.
  • Don’t chew on the side of your mouth where you had the root canal until you receive your permanent dental crown. The treated tooth is vulnerable until it’s fortified by the dental crown.
  • Avoid smoking and tobacco products. The chemicals in cigarettes and tobacco products slow the healing process, increasing your risk of infection.

Don’t let a root canal scare you from making an appointment with your dentist. Your procedure will be very different from the stories you’ve heard, so there’s no need to worry. Your dentist will always ensure you’re comfortable, so don’t hesitate to schedule your appointment.

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