There are many misconceptions about root canals, the most common one being that it is very painful. This is certainly not true today with the technological advances in dentistry. Root canals have become a quick and painless procedure. If you're suspecting that you might need a root canal treatment, there's nothing to be afraid of. Still, if you're concerned about root canals, the best way to ease those worries is to learn more about the procedure.
What's a Root Canal?
When the nerve inside your tooth gets infected, a root canal is required to clean the infection and save your tooth from being extracted. If left untreated, the infection will worsen over time and can become life-threatening. A root canal removes the infected nerve and pulp, cleans the inside of your tooth, fills it, then seals it. We often say after a root canal that your tooth is "dead". This simply means you will no longer feel the hot and cold being applied on your tooth.
Do Root Canals Hurt?
With todays technological advances, a root canal is generally a pain free procedure. Similar to a cavity, the treatment is performed under local anesthetic. After the procedure, it is normal to experience some soreness and mild discomfort, but for the most part, it's relatively painless. If anything, not getting a root canal treatment could make tooth pain even worse since it's the infection that's causing the inflammation. Getting root canal therapy will relieve this pain and ensure a speedy recovery.
In cases where the tooth is infected, your dentist may recommend to take antibiotics a few days prior to starting the root canal. This is to ensure that the dentist will be able to numb your tooth and undertake the procedure in a pain free fashion.
How Do You Know If You Need a Root Canal?
If you've yet to visit a dentist, some early signs that you may need a root canal treatment are:
1. Persistent Toothache
Do you experience severe pain while chewing or biting? This could indicate that the tooth nerves are exposed or damaged. It could also be because you have damaged fillings, or if you have a crown, it may have fallen out. Another reason why you could be feeling pain is deep decay or cavity. This refers to decay that's already affecting the roots and nerves of the tooth. In this case, a filling wouldn't be enough to salvage the tooth. To save your tooth, you need root canal therapy.
2. A Chipped or Cracked Tooth
One way bacteria can invade your tooth is when it gets chipped or cracked. This is why you need to avoid eating hard foods. If your chipped or cracked a tooth it doesn't always mean you need a root canal. You have other options such as crowns, veneers, dental implants, etc. However, if the crack is deep, close or near the pulp, your dentist might suggest a root canal treatment. Remember, root canal is the way to go if there's an infection and you want to save your tooth.
3. Swollen or Tender Gums
One of the most obvious root canal symptoms is swollen or inflamed gums. This could manifest in different ways. The affected area could be red and tender to touch or you may have a bump, swelling or abscess on your gums.
4. Prolonged Sensitivity
Many people experience tooth sensitivity, especially when eating cold or hot foods and drinks. Usually, it can be controlled with Sensodyne toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. If your tooth sensitivity doesn't improve even after using Sensodyne for a few weeks, then it's time to visit a dentist. The nerve of your tooth may be damaged causing prolonged sensitivity.
5. Tooth Discolouration
Tooth discolouration is most often as a result of trauma. You will not have any pain, however you will notice that your tooth is getting darker (more yellow or grey) compared to the adjacent teeth. These cases always require a root canal.
What Can You Expect After a Root Canal?
Following the procedure, you will be numb and it will wear off in about 2 to 4 hours. After this, you can start eating again. The first 48 hours following the root canal, it is normal to experience some sensitivity or discomfort, you can take anti-inflammatories such as Tylenol or Advil. In rare cases, you may develop a swelling, in which case you should contact your dentist to prescribe you antibiotics.
Ready to Save Your Tooth?
Root canal therapy or endodontic treatment has several advantages. It helps you save your tooth and you don't have to worry about chewing problems, your tooth looking unnatural, or your other teeth wearing down from excessive wear or strain. If you think you may need a root canal, contact us today to book your consultation.