Everyone going into the dentist fears the lecture about not flossing often enough, but there is one thing that everyone dreads hearing: you need a root canal. In this blog, we’ll go over everything you need to know about this dreaded dental procedure, including what increases the chances of needing a root canal, warning signs, what the process entails, if they are painful, and most importantly, how to prevent needing one in the first place.
At M Dental, our team of dentists and hygienists are dedicated to helping each patient get the best care possible and educating them on how to keep their teeth, gums, and mouth healthy in between cleanings. When necessary, we also offer a range of services for when plaque has built up on the teeth and has lead to serious conditions that need more thorough treatment. These include root canals, crowns and bridges, and tooth extractions. If you are in need of any dental work, give our Mississauga team a call to schedule an appointment.
What is a Root Canal?
Before going into the procedure itself, it’s helpful to understand the basics of your tooth structure. The white, outside layer of your tooth is the enamel and just below that is a hard layer called dentin. Under this hard layer is a soft tissue known as pulp. Within the tissue, there are blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue that help the tooth develop and grow. In a fully developed tooth, the pulp isn’t required anymore as the tooth continues to get nourishment from the tissue around it.
Root Canal Treatment
The procedure is typically done in one or two appointments. The first step is to take X-rays of the tooth in order to see if there are any signs of infection in the bone. Dentists usually use an anesthetic to numb the area and to help patients feel more at ease. The treatment area needs to remain dry during the treatment, so a rubber dam will be placed around the tooth.
When the tooth is ready, a drill is used to create a hole down the middle of the tooth. The dentist is then able to remove the pulp, bacteria, decayed nerve tissue, and any other debris from the tooth. Several drills may be necessary in order to remove all of the decayed tissue and pulp and to clean the sides of the root canal.
After the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, it needs to be sealed. Depending on how severe the condition of the tooth is in, your dentist may choose to wait a week before sealing the tooth. In this case, a medication will be put inside the tooth and a temporary filling will be used to keep food and other contaminants out of the tooth.
The final step of the process is simply to place a filling on the access hole that was created. Depending on the size of the filling required, a crown may be necessary in order to protect the tooth from breaking.
Why Do You Need Root Canal Treatment?
The biggest reason patients need a root canal is due to tooth decay. It begins when plaque builds up, which turns into acid, which slowly breaks down the enamel of the teeth. When acid has been allowed to break down the enamel for long enough, it will lead to a cavity. When the cavity gets big enough and the decay is severe enough, it will need to be treated.
Is the Procedure Painful?
It’s important to understand that when facing a root canal treatment, that the purpose is to heal your tooth and to help relieve pain and discomfort that occurs from nerve damage. While this procedure can sound scary and has a bad reputation, the pain leading up to the root canal is often worse than the actual procedure. Having a root canal is often compared with the pain and discomfort that comes from having a cavity filled.
Your dentist will use an anesthetic to prevent any pain during the procedure. The two to three days after the procedure, there may be some pain and sensitivity, but over-the-counter pain relievers are often enough to mediate any discomfort and pain. Within a week, patients typically are able to eat without any pain.
How to Prevent Needing a Root Canal
The best way to prevent needing a root canal is to take good care of your teeth.
- Rinse your mouth with water after eating.
- Brush two times a day.
- Floss once daily.
- Avoid hard candies and ice.
- Avoid consuming too many sugary, citrusy, and acidic foods.
- Visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.
The most important thing you can do is to regularly brush and floss. This will prevent plaque from building up, which can then prevent cavities from forming. Along with brushing twice and flossing once a day, be sure to schedule a regular appointment with your dentist. A thorough cleaning from a professional will ensure that all of the plaque is removed that a toothbrush may miss.
If you haven’t had a cleaning in the last year, it’s time to visit M Dental in Mississauga. Call our team today!