The prospect of undergoing any dental procedure is daunting since there is usually some discomfort. After all, teeth and gums can cause excruciating pain when something is wrong. This is why many people don’t look forward to having a root canal.
But what is a root canal? It is the removal of the pulp, the soft centre of your tooth. The pulp consists of capillaries, connective tissue, and nerves that help your teeth grow. Root canal treatment is also referred to as endodontic therapy.
When Do You Need a Root Canal?
A healthy pulp is vital to maintaining the structure of your teeth. It’s worth noting that your tooth’s crown can remain intact even if the pulp is compromised. If your pulp gets injured, infected, or inflammation, you would need a root canal.
Extensive decay due to untreated cavities is the most common cause of pulp damage. Several dental procedures on the same tooth also increase the risk of this condition. Other causes include cracked or chipped teeth and impact injuries.
The most common symptoms are swollen and painful gums and teeth. Diagnosis involves performing x-rays on the affected areas. If your condition is too severe, your dentist might refer you to a specialist.
What Does the Procedure Involve?
Usually, the root canal procedure has three steps – cleaning the root canal, sealing it and adding a crown or filling.
Cleaning the Canal
The dentist starts by removing the root canal of the affected tooth. After administering local anaesthesia, the doctor makes tiny holes in the crown for accessing the compromised pulp. They then use sharp files to remove the dead pulp tissue through the small holes.
Sealing the Root Canal
After removing the affected pulp, the dentist cleans and disinfects the resulting gap. Once the opening is clean, the doctor applies rubber-like material and seals it using adhesive cement.
Since it involves the removal of nerves, endodontic therapy kills your teeth. You can’t feel any pain after undergoing the procedure.
Installing a Crown or Fillings
Although a root canal eliminates pain, it makes your teeth fragile. The ligaments that support your teeth and attach them to the jawbone will now serve as the primary source of nutrients. The support provided by the bone is temporary – after some time, the teeth weaken and become malnourished. This is where crowns and fillings come in handy.
Adding a crown and fillings strengthens your teeth. As a result, you can chew hard foods and brush without complications.
How Do You Deal with the Pain?
As mentioned earlier, a root canal is painful. However, the dentist can leverage their expertise to mitigate the pain.
The pain you feel comes from infection, not the treatment. In fact, the procedure alleviates the aching.
The doctor uses local anaesthesia to ease the pain when performing the procedure. Afterwards, you’ll experience swelling, tenderness, and aching around the treated area. To get relief, you can use over-the-counter painkillers.
If the pain persists, the doctor can prescribe more potent drugs like codeine. Your dentist will also recommend the proper remedy for your infection, usually an antibiotic.
What about Recovery?
Caring for your teeth is the most crucial aspect of recovering from a root canal.
It’s essential to look after your teeth when recovering from root canal treatment. If you feel pain, use painkillers like ibuprofen and paracetamol. If the pain persists, see your dentist. Avoid chewing hard or frozen foods until your wound heals.
Other habits of taking care of your teeth include brushing and flossing regularly, avoiding sugary food, reducing caffeine intake, and quitting smoking.
Like other dental disorders, the best way to steer clear of a root canal is by observing proper oral habits. This way, you’ll avoid the pain, the cost, and the stigma associated with oral health issues.