Root Canal Therapy
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Each year over 14 million root canals are performed in the United States. However, despite being a common dental procedure, it still fills patients with thoughts of pain and anxiety. Fortunately, advances in technology and improved anesthetics have made root canal procedures relatively painless. In fact, many patients receiving root canals report experiencing little to no pain whatsoever during the procedure.
A root canal describes the natural cavity at a tooth’s core that contains the pulp chamber, a soft area of nerves that, when infected, can lead to adverse conditions such as face and neck swelling, and bone loss near your tooth’s roots.
At St. Matthews Dental Care our staff understands the apprehension patients feel about root canals and will work to alleviate their pain, and uneasiness by making them feel more comfortable and confident.
When Do You Need A Root Canal?
Are you experiencing severe pain or discomfort while eating? Are your teeth experiencing sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures? Do you have swollen gums or tooth discoloration? Do you have a chipped or cracked tooth? Is a reoccurring pimple on the gums causing you to fret?
If you have one or more of these symptoms, you might need a root canal. While nobody wants a root canal, knowing what symptoms to look out for can help expedite treatment and eliminate further issues.
Ideally, you should visit your dentist every six months for a routine checkup. At that time, your St. Matthews Dental Care dentist will be able to tell if you need a root canal or would benefit from another treatment option.
Root Canal Procedure (Step-by-Step)
Root canals are performed by an endodontist, a dental specialist that has completed four years of dental school as well as two or more years of specialized training. For root canals, our dentists will use anesthetics to help patients avoid discomfort during the procedure.
In years past, root canal treatments would take multiple long visits. Thanks to advances in technology and technique, most patients can have the procedure completed in a single visit. However, if more than one tooth needs treatment, or if there is a severe infection, further visits may be required.
Here is a step-by-step guide of what to expect during your root canal.
- The dentist will examine the tooth in question and administer a local anesthetic if necessary. After full numbness is achieved, the dentist places a small protective sheet (a dental dam) over the area in question to keep the area isolated and dry.
- The dentist makes an opening in the crown of the tooth and cleans the infected pulp chamber and root canal before shaping the space for filling.
- The root canals are filled with a biocompatible material which is then placed with adhesive cement to ensure the root canals remain fully sealed. This prevents any further risk of infection. In most cases, a temporary filling is placed to plug any gaps.
- Finally, the crown or another restorative capsule is placed on the tooth to return it to its full function.
Most root canals take about 90 minutes to perform with some recuperation time afterward. However, please remember that procedure length and the number of appointments can vary depending on various factors.
Because your root canal uses a local anesthetic, you will not be impaired from driving home because the effects subside within a few minutes of discontinuation.
What to Expect After a Root Canal
Following your root canal, your tooth will stand a much better chance of remaining intact. The dentist may place a crown on the affected tooth to cover up incidental imperfections or discoloration.
If you experience pain do not be alarmed. It is common for patients to experience one or several days of mild discomfort after a root canal. This is a normal reaction that can be effectively treated with over-the-counter pain relievers. Your doctor may also prescribe a stronger medication, if necessary. To prevent further decay, continue to practice good dental hygiene such as brushing and flossing.
Eating After a Root Canal
Deciding what to eat after a root canal procedure can be challenging because everyone reacts to the procedure differently. Individual pain thresholds are not easy to measure. As a result, navigating what you can and cannot eat after a root canal can be problematic.
Patients are urged to eat soft foods for two to three days following a root canal treatment. They are also asked to avoid foods that are too hot or cold. Also, when eating afterward, it is best to chew slowly on the side of your mouth opposite from where you were treated.
Fortunately, just because you need to eat carefully after a root canal doesn’t mean you can’t eat foods you enjoy. Here is a sample list of suggested foods to eat after a root canal.
Patients recovering from a root canal are also discouraged from drinking alcohol, eating anything spicy, crunchy, or excessively chewy, like gum or taffy.
Should I Visit A Dentist After My Root Canal Procedure?
Be sure to make a follow-up appointment with your dentist after your root canal. Root canal procedures are complex, and the tooth may take considerable time to heal afterward. During the healing period, your tooth is sensitive and vulnerable and at greater risk of fracturing, so scheduling a follow-up appointment to make sure that your tooth is healing properly and ensure there are no post-procedure complications.
If you are experiencing pain or discomfort or if you want to learn more about root canal therapy, schedule an examination today, Call us at St. Matthews Dental Care at 502-897-3424 today!