What is a root canal?
Root canals (also known as endodontics) are safe and effective dental procedures during which a dentist will remove damaged pulp from the interior of the tooth, preventing the need for tooth extractions.
Once a tooth has emerged through the gums, the nerve's only function is to provide the sensation of hot or cold temperatures, so the absence of the nerve will not affect the function of the tooth, and it's better to remove it.
What happens during a root canal procedure?
A root canal procedure usually involves one to three visits to your dental office, depending on how severe the damage is.
Firstly, a dentist will remove the affected tissues from the interior of the affected tooth. This tooth is then sealed up and filled with composite materials. If your teeth have extensive decay, your dentist may place a dental crown to strengthen and protect the tooth.
Why do I need a root canal?
When a tooth has a deep cavity or is cracked, bacteria can enter the interior of the tooth and cause infection. If left untreated, an abscess may form, pain and swelling may result, and it may eventually cause damage to your jawbones and overall oral health.
In these cases, the solution is often to remove the infected tooth nerve with a root canal.
How do I know if I need a root canal?
Patients generally require a root canal when they experience serious toothaches, swelling in their gums, or persistent sensitivity in one or more of their teeth (especially in respect to hot and cold). These symptoms can be easily remedied when the damaged tissue is removed from the tooth.
Only your dentist can determine if a root canal will be an appropriate treatment. If you experience any of these symptoms, be sure to contact your dentist.
Do root canals hurt?
Since patients are given anesthesia, a root canal isn’t more painful than other dental procedures, like getting a filling or having a wisdom tooth removed.
Your may experience some numbness or soreness after the procedure and, in some instances, you may also experience some mild discomfort in the days following the procedure. Your dentist will be able to help you manage this pain and, in most cases, any post-procedure pain can be quickly and comfortably treated.
How to prevent a root canal
In order to prevent the need for a root canal, it's important that you follow dental hygiene habits each day that help to prevent cavities and other tooth problems too. In order to keep your teeth healthy and avoid needing for a root canal, you should follow these guidelines.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day
- Floss between each tooth at least once a day
- Use fluoride toothpaste or a fluoride rinse
- Visit your dentist for checkups every six months
- Have your teeth professionally cleaned by your dentist at least once per year
- Try to limit the amount of sugary food and refined carbohydrates you eat. These foods have a tendency to stick to your teeth. If you eat sugary foods, try to rinse your mouth or brush your teeth shortly afterward