Oral health is something that people tend not to worry too much about, that is until an issue arises. Any time you have discomfort or pain it’s time to see the dentist and get checked out. While it may be something relatively minor, it may also be something that requires more attention and more work. For those looking down the barrel of a root canal, it can be rather scary and stressful. You hear the words “root canal” and it’s common to feel a ripple of fear flow through you. Not to worry as we are here to dispel all that fear and anxiety, and take a look at how a root canal is treated and what you can expect.
Why Do You Need a Root Canal?
Part of the anxiety patients may feel has to do with confusion. Maybe you’re confused as to why you need a root canal at all and what it is? A root canal is used to treat the inside of your tooth. The affected tooth may be diseased or damaged, and by getting a root canal you will be able to save that tooth. A tooth that has become diseased or damaged will result in discomfort and pain, so having a root canal procedure performed will eliminate all of those issues.
Some of the most common signs that you may need a root canal are:
- You develop pimples on your gums
- You are in a lot of pain any time you bite or chew
- Your gums are tender and may even be swollen
- You have a damaged tooth (cracked or chipped)
- Your gums look dark in color
- Your tooth is very sensitive to temperature
If you experience any of these signs, it’s a good idea to get checked by your dentist.
Why Is It Important to Try to Save The Tooth?
You may be wondering why it’s so important to try to save the affected tooth rather than just pull it. The fact is that if you can save the natural tooth then there are several benefits. Some of the most common signs that you may need a root canal treatment are:
- Protecting the surrounding teeth from added strain and wear should the affected one be pulled
- It ensures chewing is comfortable and maximal
- Saving the tooth has an aesthetic aspect
- You will have complete bite force, which helps when chewing
If it’s possible to save the natural tooth, the dentist will always take this route.
Will I Be in a Lot of Pain During and After the Procedure?
The most common question dentists are typically asked is how much pain is involved during and after a root canal. Pain is personal, so that means everyone’s tolerance and definition of pain will differ. With that said, there is no reason this has to be a painful and stressful event.
You will be given anesthesia which means you won’t feel any pain during the procedure. If you’ve ever had a cavity filled, it is that same sensation and experience. You may feel some pressure but no pain. Many find that getting wisdom teeth removed is more painful than a root canal.
As for the aftercare, you can expect to feel some discomfort and maybe mild pain as the freezing wears off. There may also be some swelling, tenderness and even a numbing sensation. All of this will disappear within a few days and then you’ll be back to new – but better than you were before the root canal.
In terms of downtime after the procedure, you may be able to return to work as early as the same day. It depends on how you’re feeling and whether or not the numbness (which will wear off) bothers you.
What Happens During the Procedure?
As mentioned, you will receive anesthesia to start your appointment so that the affected area is numb. The next step is to make an opening in the tooth. This is done so that the dentist can access the pulp chamber – found inside the tooth – and remove the decay. It may be necessary to re-shape the root canals at this point. Next, it’s time to fill the root canal. Medication is sometimes added to the pulp chamber to treat an infection.
Keep in mind that a root canal may take more than one visit to complete. This is something your dentist will discuss with you when your root canal is treated.
What Happens If the Root Canal Isn’t Successful?
In some cases, the tooth can’t be treated, even with a root canal. If that’s the case you may need a bridge, a dental implant, or a removable partial denture.
If you’ve been putting off a root canal out of fear, it’s time to push that aside and embrace the procedure. Just remember, once the it is complete you’ll be free of the discomfort and pain you are currently in.