A root canal is one of the dreaded dental treatments that tend to inspire fear in both kids and adults alike. However, in reality, this perception is far from true. With modern dental technology, root canal treatments are no longer painful. They are also safe under the guidance of an experienced dentist. Thus, below we have explained in-depth the symptoms of a root canal, its procedure, pros & cons and have shed light on some of the frequently asked questions.
1. What is a Root Canal Treatment?
A common dental treatment, a root canal is used to treat a severely decayed tooth that infects and/or inflames the tooth’s nerve and pulp. During the root canal treatment, the infected pulp is removed while the inside of the tooth is cleaned & sealed to curb any subsequent infections.
A tooth can be damaged due to a deep cavity or because of physical trauma to the face. However, no matter the cause, seeking immediate endodontic treatment is important because if left untreated, it may lead to a tooth abscess or you might lose your infected tooth entirely.
2. Root Canal Procedure
Root canal treatment helps you to preserve a tooth after it is infected or inflamed. When it comes to tooth extraction vs root canal, root canal therapy is a better option than getting your tooth extracted as preserving your natural teeth for as long as possible helps with proper eating and chewing functions. It also ensures that your speech is not impaired. Plus, while there are many options for missing teeth, saving your tooth through root canal is a much more economical alternative.
Root Canal Treatment Procedure
- During a root canal procedure, the dentist will clean the infected dental pulp – which is the soft tissue inside the tooth comprising of connective tissue, nerves, and blood vessels.
- Once the infected tissue is removed from the pulp chamber, the dentist will disinfect your tooth and seal it.
*In some cases, to prevent cracking or chipping after the root canal, the dentist may place a dental crown on top of the tooth structure.
3. When Do You Need a Root Canal – Different Signs
An infected pulp can multiply the bacteria within the pulp chamber causing severe infection or abscessed tooth. If not treated, the infection can lead to bone loss around the tip of the root. It can also cause swelling which may eventually spread out to other areas, including the neck, face or head.
Some of the different signs or symptoms that indicate you need a root canal include;
- Severe Tooth Pain: A decayed tooth can cause extreme pain making it challenging to perform even daily activities.
- Swelling: You’d also notice swelling and tenderness in nearby gums, which might make it difficult to eat certain food items.
- Sensitivity to Cold/Heat: Prolonged sensitive to heat and cold is another sign of an infected tooth, which may require root canal treatment.
- Discolouration: A decayed (dead) tooth is likely to turn greyish over time, while the infection around the tooth can darken the gums.
4. Pros & Cons of Root Canal Treatment
- For root canal treatment, the rate of success is very high.
- It prevents the spread of infection and the formation of an abscess.
- It provides relief from debilitating pain and ensures there is no bone loss.
- You get to keep your natural tooth.
- It doesn’t hamper your biting and chewing functions.
- It is an affordable option compared to replacing the extracted tooth with an implant.
- An extracted tooth if not replaced, can cause the other teeth to shift, thereby affecting your bite function.
- A root canal procedure is complicated than a tooth extraction, and sometimes if it is not clean thoroughly, it can breed further infection.
- A root canal treated tooth is also prone to fractures as it is brittle.
- To reinforce the treated tooth, you would require a post or a porcelain crown, which might turn out to be expensive.
- You might have to visit the dental clinic more than once.
- After the root canal procedure, your tooth might darken or lead to discolouration.
#Root Canal Prevention
- Preventive dentistry is the best way to avoid root canal treatment.
- Brushing twice, flossing daily and avoiding foods that are bad for your teeth are some of the essential things that you need to do to enjoy good oral health.
- Visiting the dentist every six months is another top priority, as he’ll be able to treat any dental issue before it causes any major complications.
- Also, if you have tooth pain, don’t ignore it and get it checked immediately for better oral hygiene and general health.
#Other Alternatives to Root Canal
Tooth extraction is the only alternative to a root canal. Also, you will need to replace the extracted tooth with a dental implant, bridge or a removable partial denture.
For more information, contact Oris Dental – your Sunshine Coast Dentist.
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
How long does a root canal procedure take?
Ideally, it takes around 1 or 2 visits for a root canal procedure. For a simple case, the dentist may require 30-60 minutes. Whereas, a complex-case may require up to 90 minutes per visit.
Is a root canal painful? Does a root canal hurt?
Thanks to cutting-edge technology, root canal treatment has become painless. During the root canal procedure, the dentist will deliver local anaesthesia; so you won’t feel a thing. However, you might feel minor pain or soreness during the recovery.
Does root canal cause health problems?
There is no evidence to support that undergoing root canal treatment causes any sort of health problems.
Can I eat before a root canal?
Yes, you can. However, eat an hour before the root canal procedure. But, if you are undergoing sedation, then it’s best to consult with your dentist to be sure.
How long does a root canal take to heal?
For most patients, it doesn’t take but a few days to recover. However, in some rare cases, it may take a week (or two) to heal, post a root canal procedure. After the root canal procedure, feeling some tenderness around the tooth is normal and can be treated with over-the-counter pain medication. But, if you experience unusual swelling or severe pain, then contact your dentist immediately.
Are root canals really necessary?
In case of a severely damaged or decayed tooth, undergoing a root canal is necessary to preserve your natural tooth.
How do you know if you need a root canal?
Persistent pain in the tooth is the first sign that you need a root canal. Other symptoms include sensitivity to hot & cold foods, discomfort when biting or chewing food, discolouration, etc.
Can I brush my teeth after a root canal?
Unless mentioned differently by your dentist, you can brush and floss your teeth like usual after a root canal.
Does a root canal last forever?
Root canal treatment has a high success rate and can last a lifetime with proper care, beginning with practising good oral hygiene.
Do I need a crown after a root canal?
Since your natural tooth will become shallow and brittle after the root canal procedure, a crown can help reinforce the treated tooth and prevent any fracture.
How soon after a root canal can you eat?
Wait until the numbness in your mouth wears off before you eat anything post the root canal surgery. This will ensure that you won’t accidentally bite your tongue or cheek. Also, until the treated tooth is fully restored by the dentist with a permanent filling or a dental crown, avoid chewing or biting down on it to prevent any damage.
Can I drink water after a root canal?
Once the numbness wears off, you can eat and drink normally post a root canal procedure.
What should I avoid after a root canal?
Some of the foods to avoid after a root canal are hot and spicy foods as they may lead to sensitivity and irritate your gum tissues. Crunchy and hard foods is also a complete no-no as it may lead to accidental fracture or broken tooth. Also, avoid drinking alcohol as it may hinder in the root canal recovery process.