When someone utters the word “root canal,” most people can’t suppress the niggling urge to cringe. Many imagine a whining drill and a constant throb of pain. And if your dentist suggests a root canal, you may instantly feel anxious and nervous about the procedure.
But root canals aren’t nearly as bad as many believe. So, what can you expect from a root canal procedure? Below, we’ll discuss what a root canal treatment is, why it’s necessary, and what the procedure is like.
What Is a Root Canal Treatment?
Our teeth are fairly strong, but they can sometimes meet an ill fate. Rough sports or a smack to the mouth can crack teeth or cause other trauma. And if decay sits too long, it can result in cavities or other dental issues.
When a tooth’s roots are damaged through decay or physical trauma, they can become inflamed or infected. To keep this infection from becoming problematic, the affected roots and pulp are removed from the innards of the tooth, which is generally what a root canal treatment is.
If your dentist has determined you need a root canal treatment, your root canals will be cleared of infected roots and pulp using a drill and other tools, and the canals and hollow portion of the tooth will be filled and sealed off to prevent future damage and decay.
Why Would Root Canal Treatment Be Necessary?
As mentioned before, a root canal treatment is meant to clear infected roots and pulp from a tooth and prevent more extensive dental issues. But why would this be a better option than removing the tooth entirely?
Extracting the tooth is much more traumatic than a root canal treatment, and doing so can actually get more bad bacteria in your bloodstream. Also, it’s always best to preserve the natural tooth as much as possible to prevent potential problems with your biting, chewing, or jawbone strength.
Getting a root canal is also more cost- and time-effective than a tooth extraction. When you get a tooth extraction, you may have to take several trips to the dental chair for the extraction and for an implant, and an implant can be costly compared to a root canal treatment.
With a root canal procedure, you spend limited time at the dentist, and you save a lot of money while keeping your natural tooth in place. And you’ll find it’s actually much more pleasant than you expected.
What Happens During A Root Canal Operation?
A root canal treatment is performed by an endodontic surgeon – A dentist well-versed in diagnosis and management of dental infections. Before a root canal treatment, a background check is done to determine the cause of pain which usually includes an x-ray of the patient’s teeth. If you’re nervous, an oral sedative may be administered before treatment. Here is a step by step guide that will help you understand what to expect during a root canal therapy procedure.
Local Anaesthesia is Administered
Once you are sedated, an anaesthesia is administered to numb the tooth being treated. Where the pulp in the tooth has acute inflammation, it may take a few more minutes to numb this area. Note that your dentist can’t start the procedure before the treatment area is numb.
Dental Dam is Put in Place
A dental dam is a sheet (thin) of rubber placed over the affected tooth. It is used to isolate it from the rest of the mouth.
Access Hole Drilled
A small access hole is then drilled via the biting surface of the affected tooth. The hole allows access to the root canal and pulp chamber for treatment. The infected pulp is then removed using special equipment. Note that the entire procedure is not painful since the area is numb. When the pulp and nerves are removed, the patient will no longer feel pain that tooth.
Root Canal Filling
The root canal is first disinfected and then shaped to receive root canal fillings. The fillings have to be carefully selected to fit into the freshly prepared channel. Root canal sealing prevents re-infection of the tooth in the future. A permanent or temporary sealing material is then placed into the access hole and the dental dam removed.
Sometimes, a tooth may lack the adequate structure to hold filling in place. In such cases, the dentist places a durable plastic material in the root canals to keep it in place. A dental crown is then positioned to prevent recontamination. You may feel slightly sore after treatment. But it quickly disappears in a couple of days.
Will It Be Painful to Have a Root Canal Procedure?
It’s popular to portray root canals as extremely painful but this isn’t how root canals really are. Improvements in anesthetics and technology in dentistry have made root canals essentially hassle-free and pain-free. Now patients can look forward to less discomfort and shorter recovery times than in the past.
Root canal therapy might not be as intimidating if you learn what to expect before you have one. The dentist will use local anesthesia to numb the area near your tooth so you will not have any pain. Though there are some rare instances where the anesthetic might not be completely effective because of issues such as abscesses, the dentist will ordinarily prescribe antibiotics seven to ten days before the procedure to prevent them.
After the root canal treatment is completed and all of the bacteria and infection have been eliminated from the interior of the tooth, your endodontist or dentist with remove the nerve, a soothing agent will be added, and the tooth will be closed up with a filling. Whatever discomfort the patient might feel after the procedure should go away in the next 24 hours as the immune system takes care of whatever remains of the infection. The area could still have some tenderness for a few days following the root canal.
Pain after root canal
If the tooth was especially inflamed or painful, the root canal may actually temporarily aggravate the area, causing you more discomfort that normal. Additionally, the healing process can take a little time to calm things down. This is frequently caused by stretching on the periodontal fibers and ligaments that hold the tooth in place. They are likely to be inflamed by the infection, or the root canal procedure itself. Your jaws may also be sore from having them opened so wide for the time it takes your dentist to complete the work.
Even if the nerve has been removed, some patients report a kind of “ghost” nerve pain because of the sudden severing of the nerve from the major nerves that run along the pathways of your jaws and gums. Over time, this pain normally recedes by itself. However, you should tell your dentist about any continuing pain or discomfort.
Patients should avoid chewing on hard or crunchy foods following a root canal. Chewing on the opposite side or eating only soft foods is a good way to allow the tooth to rest and heal. It can also reduce your pain. If the pain continues or gets worse after a root canal, you may need additional treatment and should notify your dentist as soon as possible.
Relieving Pain After a Root Canal
- First and foremost, follow all of your dentist’s instructions
- Make sure to take any prescribed medications or antibiotics, as directed
- Make sure to allow the tooth to heal and chew on the other side when possible for a few days
- Report all bleeding, signs of infection such as pus or redness, fever or swelling to your dentist
- Ask the dentist if you can take over the counter medications or if they can prescribe something for pain
In any case, remember that it’s not typical to have severe pain that lasts longer than a few days. If you are experiencing pain like this, be sure to call your endodontist or general dentist as soon as possible.
How to Avoid Pain after Root Canal?
Go to the right dentist! With the right professional, root canal procedures can be a breeze.