Root canals get a bad rap. When someone hears their dentist recommend one, they usually run out of the office and never make an appointment. But a root canal doesn’t have to be the scary monster that you think it is. Chances are, if you have a better understanding of how a root canal procedure is completed and what to expect before, during and after treatment, your fear will lessen and you will be more likely to make your root canal appointment.
Why do I need a root canal?
Root canal treatment is the process of cleaning and sealing off the space inside a tooth that originally contained the nerve tissue. This treatment will help the body begin the healing process from whatever damaged the nerve tissue to begin with. This will hopefully secure your tooth and prevent a more invasive procedure.
A root canal might be recommended for several reasons. If a tooth is acutely inflamed or in the process of dying, a root canal can stop the situation from getting worse. But even if a tooth is completely dead, a root canal could still be the recommended treatment.
How is the procedure completed?
There are two basic stages in a root canal, which are completed at separate appointments. First, the compromised tissue is removed from the tooth’s nerve space. A drill is usually used to remove the pulp. Then, the area is filled in with medicine, temporary filling materials and a final root canal filling. It is then sealed off. It sounds fairly simple but can be a long procedure because of the complexity of working in such a small area.
The final step of the process will usually involve the placement of a crown. If a crown is needed, an impression of the tooth will be taken. While the crown is being fabricated, a temporary crown may be placed. A crown may need to be replaced, redone or repaired after several years or if it becomes damaged.
How much will it hurt?
It’s not the process that scares patients. It’s the pain that they associate with it. But there are plenty of ways to manage your pain. First, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Let your dentist know if you prefer to know all of the steps being performed or if you would rather try and focus on something else during the procedure.
After the cleaning has taken place, don’t be shy about asking for antibiotics to help remove any infection that is left. This can make your second appointment much easier. You should also ask for numbing medication during your second appointment. Even if the nerve of your tooth is gone, you might still feel discomfort in other tissues. You’ll feel much more confident during the procedure if you know you’ve had numbing medication.
You should also take an over-the-counter pain killer before the numbing medication wears off. There’s no need to be a hero in a situation like this. Preventing pain is key.
How bad is recovery?
You may need to spend a few days taking it easy but recovery isn’t as bad as most people think. Avoid chewing on the side of your mouth that was worked on until a permanent crown has been placed. Avoid crunchy foods and remember that your treated tooth is fragile. But don’t be afraid to brush it. It’s more important than ever to keep the area clean.
Quay Dental is proud to offer root canals with excellent results. We are happy to work with you and make sure that you are comfortable before, during and after the procedure.