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Uncover the Truth About Root Canal Treatment

The reputation of root canals probably doesn’t matter much to you unless your dentist says you need one. Then you realize that you, among millions of others, are terrified of the prospect. Root canals have the reputation of being exceedingly painful, and they can terrify the staunchest of individuals. Is this reputation trustworthy, though? Although it may have been in the 1700s when root canals were first performed, modern root canals are relatively painless and involve only minimal pain or discomfort. If your dentist indicates that you need a root canal, the following information may be helpful to you.

Why Do Root Canals Happen?

Root canals are usually needed when the interior of the tooth, called the root or pulp, is badly decayed or damaged beyond repair. If not removed, the pulp can develop an infection and become abscessed. If this happens, the infection can spread throughout the body and damage your major organs. Occasionally, an abscessed tooth can be fatal, so don’t procrastinate if your dentist indicates that you need a root canal.

What Questions Need to Be Answered Before Getting a Root Canal Treatment?

Most people have questions about the root canal procedure but may forget them by the time they’re at the dentist’s office. The following list may jog your memory when you’re at the dentist’s office:

  1. Why am I a good candidate for a root canal?
  2. How much pain will I have during, and after the procedure?
  3. Is there a better way to treat this problem?
  4. What happens during a root canal?
  5. How much time will it take from start to finish?
  6. What are my options for anesthesia and why?
  7. Are there any risks involved?
  8. What will a root canal cost me?
  9. Will my insurance cover the entire cost?
  10. Will my tooth be weaker or stronger after the procedure?

We recommend that you contact your insurance provider before your appointment so that you know your coverage limits, limitations, and exclusions. If you need financial assistance, ask us about our financing options.

How Do I Know I Need a Root Canal and Not a Different Treatment?

Dental decay or damage doesn’t happen overnight usually, so there will be signs that you need a root canal, such as:

  • Discolored or darkened area around teeth or gums
  • Inflammation, swelling, or redness of your gums
  • Severe, persistent pain in a tooth
  • Habitual temperature sensitivity
  • Small bump on the gums close to a sore tooth
  • Sore teeth and gums
  • Severe tooth infection or decay

If you notice any of these signs, make a dental appointment right away.

What’s the Root Canal Procedure?

If your dentist has recommended that you get a root canal, you can expect the following procedure:

  1. Detection: Your root canal procedure begins when you detect a problem and make an appointment with your dentist.
  2. Starting: If your dentist determines that you need a root canal, then they’ll need to remove the defective interior of the tooth, called the root or pulp. Your dentist will first numb the area around the tooth, then drill a small hole in the tooth so that they have access to the interior.
  3. Continuing: Once your dentist has access, they’ll remove the damaged or decayed interior and then clean and disinfect the canals.
  4. Filling the holes: When the canals are disinfected and rinsed, they’ll be filled with a permanent substance, usually gutta-percha.
  5. Restoration: A temporary filling will be applied to the top of the tooth, and your permanent crown will be ordered.
  6. The final step: When your permanent crown arrives in our office, you’ll return, and your dentist will cement the crown in place. Your root canal is now complete!

Your dentist will provide you with aftercare instructions, and your root canal will heal quickest if you are dedicated to following the instructions.

Are There Dos and Don’ts for Taking Care of a Tooth After a Root Canal?

As with any type of procedure, there are dos and don’ts, so follow these to ensure the best outcome for your dental procedure.

You may experience slight tenderness or tingling for a few days, but this is normal and indicates that your body is healing. You shouldn’t feel more than minor discomfort for a few days, and it should be alleviated with over-the-counter analgesics. If you have severe pain or pressure, contact the office immediately. You may have a problem.

How to Care for Your Tooth at Home

You should follow these instructions to the letter for optimal healing on your root canal:

  • Avoid eating anything that needs to be chewed until all the numbness in your mouth is completely gone. If you don’t, you could bite your cheek or tongue, but you’ll be completely unaware of it because the nerves are still numb.
  • Don’t chew or bite near the treated tooth until it has completely healed and your permanent crown is in place.
  • Follow your dentist’s instructions exactly as they’re written, especially regarding your pain medication.
  • Follow your usual good oral hygiene habits for the rest of your teeth, but avoid the treated tooth until it’s healed and your permanent crown is in place.

If you experience any adverse reactions, even if they seem minor, call your dentist immediately. Adverse reactions include allergic reactions, excessive pressure or pain, swelling, nausea, or any other symptoms.

By carefully following your dentist’s instructions, you’ll expedite your tooth’s healing and eliminate many problems that might otherwise occur.

Make Sure to Meet with Your Dentist Again!

Your root canal won’t be complete until the permanent crown is placed, so make an appointment for that procedure as soon as your root canal procedure has been completed. This final step will ensure that your tooth has been restored to health and protected from future damage.

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