Everything You Need To Know About Your Root Canal Procedure
If you’ve been to the dentist and they’ve told you that you need a root canal procedure, you might be a little concerned about what that really entails.
There’s no need to be afraid—although root canals are made out to be dreaded, painful procedures, the truth is that they’re very common, straightforward treatment solutions that will help to preserve the health of your teeth.
You’ll likely find that you need a root canal if you have an infection in a tooth that’s causing you severe problems or pain. For example, if your teeth are in pain when you’re eating food, or if you find that you’ve become overly sensitive to heat or cold on your teeth, you might need a root canal. Similarly, a darkened tooth and swelling or extreme sensitivity in the gums can also mean that a root canal may be necessary.
Visit your dentist immediately if you notice any of these symptoms. If a root canal is the solution to your problems, continue reading for a little more information on the procedure.
What Causes Root Canal Issues?
Before we get into how you can prepare for your root canal surgery, let’s take a look at what causes root canal issues in the first place. “Root canal” refers to the pulp that sits inside your tooth; it’s a soft tissue that’s full of nerves and blood vessels.
If the pulp becomes infected, it needs to be removed. If it isn’t removed the infection could spread to the gums, bringing on even more problems. Most people suffer from root canal issues because they have inadequate dental care or because there’s a deep decay from unfilled cavities. Sometimes, an injury can cause damage to the tooth, which then makes an infection more likely.
How to Prepare for Root Canal Surgery
If you’ve been told that you need root canal surgery, then there are a few things that you should think to do ahead of time. Since you’ll have some trouble eating after the surgery has been completed, it’s recommended that you eat a couple of hours before heading to the dentist’s office. You’ll also want to take whatever steps necessary to put you in a relaxed state of mind (meditation, a good night’s sleep, etc.). This will calm any nerves that you have and make it easier to relax once it’s all over too, which will help you to recover more quickly. If you feel excessively anxious, ask your dentist about the options of being sedated or having a calming premedication.
Have a conversation with your dentist before your procedure regarding painkillers that might be prescribed for your recovery. Try and arrange to pick them up before your root canal to make the recovery process a little smoother.
What Does the Procedure Involve?
Essentially, the process of a root canal procedure is carried out to remove the infected pulp from the tooth, thereby saving the tooth. When you arrive, the professional dentist will numb your tooth before drilling a small hole into it.
Once the hole is finished, your dentist will be able to extract the infected pulp. They will clean the root canals and then place a sterile elastic material before closing it up. Just like that, the procedure will be over.
How Long Does it Take?
The length of time depends on which tooth needs the treatment and the severity of the case. You could find that it takes between 30–45 minutes from beginning to end, though it could take up to 2 hours. Rarely, a tooth will need two appointments so that a medication can sit inside of the tooth, treating infection prior to the final fill.
What to Expect After the Procedure
The after effects of a root canal procedure aren’t painless. However, there will be temporary remedies for the pain. Your dentist will give instructions on the best things you can do to minimize the pain when you’re at home.
There are usually two sources of pain. One is the affected tooth, which may be slightly painful, and the other is your jaw, which may feel stiff and sore—you’ll have had it open for an extended period of time during the surgery.
Over the counter painkillers will typically be enough to keep things manageable. Pain typically goes away after 24-48 hours. You can also ice your jaw to help with the pain. If you experience anything overly painful or anything that feels unusual, get in touch with your dentist immediately.
How to Avoid a Root Canal
Root canal procedures are not something to be afraid of, but most people would prefer to avoid needing one. Generally, you can do this by following good dental practices.
Brushing your teeth and flossing twice a day, avoiding food and drink that are high in sugar content, and protecting your teeth from injury will all decrease your chances of needing a root canal.