Root canals have a bad reputation for being painful, but you shouldn't dread having this procedure performed. Not only can having a root canal eliminate any discomfort you're already experiencing, but they can save your tooth.
Needing a root canal is typically more painful than the actual root canal experience itself, and here's why.
Why a Root Canal May Be Necessary
A root canal becomes necessary when the pulp inside your tooth becomes infected or inflamed. This most commonly occurs due to a cavity, chip, crack, or another injury to the tooth and affected pulp. Without addressing the infection of the pulp, pain and discomfort are likely to continue. Left untreated, an abscess may form.
A root canal procedure is when the soft tissue is removed from the tooth after being compromised. In many cases, the tooth's structural integrity is still intact, so there's no need to extract the tooth. Your jaw and the root of your tooth work together to form the support your tooth requires, so leaving the tooth in place is always the ideal choice.
5 Steps of a Root Canal Procedure
There are five general steps that you can expect during a root canal procedure.
Step 1: General anesthesia will be performed before any procedures take place to ensure your comfort.
Step 2: An opening that allows for an access point into the tooth's pulp is created. This access hole in your tooth enables your dentist to clear the infected tissue from the pulp chamber inside your tooth.
Step 3: The pulp chamber will be thoroughly cleaned out and shaped, ready to receive the filler material. If the crown of your tooth is found to be damaged, we may suggest placing a post to help support the reconstruction process over the damaged area of the tooth.
Step 4: The access opening will be sealed entirely along with any open space within the tooth to prevent future bacteria from collecting and causing another infection.
Step 5: A dental crown may be recommended for a tooth that undergoes a root canal procedure to provide additional strength and protection against future damage. Depending on the severity of the dental decay and infection, an immediate crown may or may not be necessary.
Managing Treatment-Related Discomfort
Take Ibuprofen Beforehand
Ibuprofen is an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication that your dentist may recommend you take on the day of your procedure. Taking a mild pain sedative will help ease any potential swelling that may be present and make your procedure more comfortable.
Take All Prescribed Antibiotics
If you have an already infected tooth, having a treatment performed to address the infection can cause pain and discomfort. Your dentist can prescribe an antibiotic to help clear any infection in the tooth before your appointment. This will enable your pain to be reduced to minimal discomfort. Taking an antibiotic before your treatment will also help to shorten recovery time.
Don't Smoke or Drink Alcohol
It is always recommended that patients avoid tobacco products in addition to refraining from alcohol for at least 24 hours before your procedure. We recommended that you do not smoke for at least 72 hours after your root canal. Smoking or drinking can slow healing times and even lead to potential complications within the procedure.
Discuss Any Anxiety Related To The Procedure With Your Dentist
A root canal procedure allows us to keep your natural tooth for years to come, which should always be your top priority. If you find yourself needing a root canal, trust only the best. Call Elite Dental & Denture PC today to make an appointment for a consultation or schedule a routine exam.