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Root Canals – What You Should Know

root canal-toothache-dentist near meRemember the game where someone would whisper a sentence in your ear, then you told someone, then they told someone, and by the time it came back around it was completely inaccurate and exaggerated? This is the case with root canals. For those of us who have never had a root canal, we may be afraid of the idea of a root canal based on hearsay or miscellaneous and false information we read on the web.  A root canal is actually a necessary process that a dentist uses to save a failing tooth and to relieve the pain associated with a tooth that is dying. So in fact, a root canal is a minor procedure that can make you feel a whole lot better. Here’s what you should know about root canals.

Root Canals Stop Pain, Not Cause It

Root canals are performed when the tissue inside your tooth becomes diseased and inflamed as a result of decay or for other reasons.  This infection may cause a toothache which can make it difficult to swallow or chew. Toothaches can cause sensitivity to warm or cold temperatures. Whether a dull ache or a sharp throb, a toothache can make it difficult to focus during the day or sleep at night. Left untreated, the infection can travel systemically to other parts of the body or may worsen to become an abscess. An abscessed tooth is a pocket of pus caused by a bacterial infection. When the infection reaches this level, the pain can radiate through the jaw and ear. The severity of an abscessed tooth can lead to a potentially serious and life-threatening condition. A root canal stops the decay and infection, providing relief and an opportunity to save the tooth.

What Happens During a Root Canal?

The procedure will begin with a local numbing agent to ensure the comfort of the patient. The tissue inside the tooth, also called the dental pulp contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. The dentist may need to remove a portion or all to relieve the pain and ensure the longevity of the tooth in question. The tooth is then sealed to prevent bacteria from reentering. A crown is placed over the top of the tooth to provide further protection and to act as reinforcement for the fragile tooth. The crown enables the patient to resume regular eating of foods and beverages once healing is complete. Crowns are especially important for back teeth which do the majority of the chewing. In most cases, an antibiotic is not necessary following the procedure, but the dentist will make a final decision based on the patient’s overall health.

Best Practices for Post-Root Canal Care

Whenever our bodies are recovering from any type of illness or surgery, it may take a few days to feel fully recovered. This is the same with a root canal. In addition to recovering from a severe infection, the jaw may feel fatigued as the result of the dentist having the mouth open during the root canal procedure. With the mouth in recovery mode, it’s highly recommended to avoid hard or crunchy foods that cause stress on the tooth. An ice pack or pain reliever can aid in reducing any swelling or soreness. Maintain daily hygiene to prevent new infections but avoid over over-brushing.

It is important to contact the dentist if any of the following symptoms occur:

  • Soreness lasts for more than a few days
  • The crown feels lose
  • Allergic reaction or hives
  • The bite of the teeth feels uneven
  • Continued swelling or aching of the mouth

The most important step any patient can take to prevent bacterial infection is to brush and floss twice per day. Take charge of your mouth with bi-annual cleanings and always take action at the onset of any pain in the mouth.

For more information about root canals or to schedule a cleaning, visit our website or call us at (281) 265-3567.

Dr. Dragana Angelova
Imperial Dental Center
“We love to see you smile”