For those who haven’t had a root canal before, you might not know everything that goes into this treatment. You’ve possibly heard stories from friends about the procedure that ends with “take care of your teeth to avoid this.” If you do need a root canal, you might be wondering about how it happened and how to get it treated. A root canal is a relatively routine procedure that can be prevented by brushing and flossing regularly. Learn more about root canals and how to prevent one in the future.
What is a root canal?
Inside our teeth, under the enamel and protective layer of dentin, is soft tissue called the pulp that houses nerves and blood vessels. These nerves are called roots and weave through the pulp from the crown of the tooth you see in your mouth down to the base of your tooth deep in the bone. When the pulp becomes infected or inflamed it needs to be removed before it spreads to the gums. A root canal procedure is essentially a step up from filling a cavity. The procedure involves removing the infected pulp and sealing it off to avoid further damage. The ultimate goal of root canal therapy is to save the tooth from needing extraction.
What causes a root canal?
You’ll need a root canal procedure if the pulp within your tooth’s root canal is severely inflamed or infected. There are a few reasons why this happens. Typically, deep decay from unfilled cavities or improper dental care is one of the main reasons why you need a root canal. A cracked tooth also exposes the pulp chamber within your teeth and can cause damage that needs to be fixed with a root canal procedure. Injury to a tooth may cause pulp damage. If the damaged pulp is left untreated can cause pain and/or abscess.
What are the symptoms?
If you’re having root canal problems, you most likely have tooth pain while chewing. Your tooth may feel especially painful or sensitive when you consume hot or cold foods and drinks. Swelling or painful gums are another sign of root canal problems as the pulp will sometimes be inflamed when its infected and spread to the gums. You might even see a small bump on the gums near the infected tooth. With a root canal issue that hasn’t been taken care of for a long time, you may even see discoloration on your tooth. However, it is possible to have no symptoms.
What is the root canal treatment process?
The process of root canal treatment is also referred to as endodontics. This involves saving your compromised tooth by removing the infected or inflamed pulp. The first thing you should do if you notice the above symptoms is to call our office and explain your symptoms. You may need an emergency appointment to avoid further damage. During your appointment, we will take an x-ray to determine whether you need the procedure. Dr.Derksen will numb your tooth, just like a filling, and then drill a small hole into your tooth. Through this hole, he will extract the decayed pulp, clean and disinfect the root canal, fill it with an elastic material and then seal it off to prevent further infection.
How do I take care of the tooth after the procedure?
We will set up a post-procedure appointment to check on the tooth and possibly place a crown on the tooth to avoid future pain. Avoid chewing with the once infected tooth as it will be sensitive, and possibly painful, for a few days. You should carefully brush and floss around the area like you normally would and rinse the infected tooth several times a day. A soft bristle brush or brushes that are made for sensitive teeth might help with the sensitivity. If your pain persists, Dr.Derksen may recommend additional root canal therapy.
How can I avoid needing a root canal?
To avoid any dental issues, you should be maintaining a healthy mouth by brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing once a day. For root canals specifically, avoiding foods and drinks high in sugar and acid that contribute to decay will aid in preventing pulp infection. Do not chew on very hard foods such as ice, as this may crack the teeth. Always wear an athletic mouthguard when participating in sports to prevent tooth injury. Maintaining your relationship with us with routine semi-annual cleanings and exams will aid in prolonging a healthy smile. Never hesitate to call our office to notify us if you are ever experiencing tooth pain.
A root canal can be managed and easily avoided now that you know the facts. If you have tooth pain and think you need root canal treatment, contact the office of Daniel J. Derksen, DDS, PLLC to assess your tooth pain and set up a treatment plan.