Root canals aren’t as scary as you think. Keep reading for the importance of getting root canal treatmen
Every year, more than 15 million root canals are done. And yet, despite how common these treatments are, the reality is that they contain a lot of misinformation.
The fear of pain and scientifically disproved claims that getting root canal treatments will lead to other health issues scare countless people away from seeking the medication they urgently need to make them feel better — and protect their overall health.
So, is a root canal really as terrifying as everyone says?
In a word: “no.”
In this post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about getting a root canal, from the signs that the treatment is right for you to exactly what to expect during and after your procedure.
Then, we’ll let you know where you can go to get expert root canal treatment and superior care for all of your dental needs.
First, let’s make sure that you understand the basics of root canal treatment and why it’s performed.
Your teeth contain pulp, a soft tissue filled with nerves, blood vessels, and other connective tissues that secure your teeth’s roots as it develops.
Once you have fully developed your permanent teeth, you no longer need the pulp, because the surrounding tissues support the tooth.
Inside your tooth, the pulp may become contaminated or inflamed over time, affecting the health of the tooth problem and those around it.
The inflamed and infected pulp is safely removed by a root canal treatment, as well as remove other debris and decay within the root canal.
Signs You May Need a Root Canal
Now, let’s take a look at some of the most common signs that you may be in need of root canal treatment.
You need to see a dentist if you experience extreme pain when you chew, or even occasional pain in a tooth throughout the day. The same goes if your teeth are highly sensitive to food and beverages that are hot or cold. Blood vessels and roots may have been damaged, as well as nerve endings exposed. Such things are definitely not going to get better on their own— in fact, they are going to get much worse.
Another sign that may be needed is darker tooth discoloration, particularly when accompanied by swelling and gum sensitivity. As a result of decay and inflammation, people even seem to develop pimple-like spots on their gums.
Even chips and cracks in the teeth can require a root canal to fall, play sports, or eat hard foods. This is because these cracks can expose your nerve endings readily, making you much more susceptible to a severe infection that can spread quickly.
You should still make an appointment with your dentist if you do not believe that any of these symptoms can involve a root canal. Even if you don’t need a root canal, these symptoms may be another, equally serious, dental issue.
But why is it so important to seek immediate treatment and dental care?
We know that the thought of having any kind of dental work done can make many people cringe and decide to put off the treatment for even longer.
But that’s an incredibly dangerous choice to make, both for the infected tooth and for your health as a whole.
So, what happens when you delay a root canal?
First of all, there’s a good chance that you’ll have to have the tooth completely removed in order to keep the infection from spreading.
This is costly, time-consuming, and often painful.
Even if you don’t lose your tooth, you’ll be in pain every time you chew or eat something.
Is it really worth it?
You’ll also be at an increased risk of having a dental abscess if you put off having a root canal done.
A dental abscess is a serious bacterial infection that, if left untreated, can spread to the rest of your body. You may even develop sepsis id the bacteria from a dental abscess spreads to your jaw, neck, and other parts of your body.
It can even eventually spread to your brain, which will require serious surgery and could potentially be fatal.
Dental abscesses can cause blood infections, meningitis, and even Ludwig’s Angina, which can result in suffocation.
A root canal is absolutely not something you should put off.
An Increased Risk of Stroke/Heart Attack
Perhaps you’ve heard of the old-fashioned expression, “Good health starts in the mouth.”
Many people simply don’t realize the impact that your oral health can have on the rest of your body.
The scary reality is that if you let dental problems and decay go on for too long, you are at an increased risk of having either a stroke or a heart attack. While yes, it’s rare, it can happen and it does.
This is because mouth inflammation means that clots, one of the leading causes of strokes and heart attacks, are much more likely to form your blood.
In addition to getting dental issues looked at as soon as possible, we’d like to mention here that quitting smoking is also one of the best things you can do for your overall oral health.
First of all, it prevents all of the serious consequences of delaying treatment that we mentioned above from happening to you.
But beyond that, it’s also an excellent way to save your natural tooth — and it’s much more affordable than most of the cosmetic dental work that you’d need to replace a seriously damaged or lost tooth.
Plus, a root canal also ensures that your teeth maintain a natural look. No one will be able to tell that you even had one done.
Additionally, the procedure is relatively quick. In most cases, it only takes about an hour and a half to complete a root canal.
Root canals also protect the other teeth around the infected area. Because dental debris and disease spread so quickly, the sooner you can have a root canal performed, the better off you’ll be.
Above all, once you have the root canal done, you’ll be able to return to a comfortable, normal life that’s uninterrupted by tooth pain.
It’s natural to feel nervous about having to undergo a root canal treatment.
In fact, most people do — and this public anxiety is often what makes the thought of having a root canal even more stressful. (If you experience dental phobia, check out these valuable coping techniques to help calm you down on the day of your treatment.)
We find that knowing what to expect from the procedure itself will make things a bit more manageable.
Depending on the severity of your decay and your specific condition, you may need more than one appointment to complete the root canal process.
The First Steps
During an initial appointment, your dentist will take an x-ray of your teeth and mouth. This makes it much easier for them to find the signs of infection in the bone, and to determine where exactly the problem tooth is located.
The good news is that you’ll receive local anesthesia and other numbing agents during your root canal even if the nerve is dead, as it makes patients much more relaxed. Then, the dentist will put a small rubber barrier around the tooth, so that the area stays dry during the root canal.
Then, it’s time for the dentist to get rid of the bacteria, old nerve tissue, pulp, and other debris in the infected tooth.
To do this, the dentist will need to drill an access hole in the tooth and clean out the area using a series of special root canal files that vary in size. This makes it easy for the dentist to scrub out your root canals, and to ensure that they’re able to get everything out.
Throughout the root canal process, your dentist will wash out the debris with sodium hypochlorite or water.
Sealing the Tooth
Once your dentist has removed all of the debris from your root canal, they need to seal your tooth back up.
Depending on the specifics of your case, your dentist may wait for about a week before they seal the tooth. Usually, this happens when there’s an infection in the tooth, and medication needs time to fully clear it up.
Even if you don’t get a permanent seal on your tooth during your first appointment, your dentist will, of course, use a temporary filling to close off the access hole.
Then, the dentist will need to fill up the hole in the tooth using a special paste and rubber compound. Then, you’ll get a permanent filling to close everything off once and for all.
In most cases, you may need a bit more restorative or cosmetic work done to the tooth that received the root canal treatment.
Things like crowns and posts further strengthen the tooth and help to ensure that you’ll be completely comfortable when chewing.
Now, let’s move onto what you should expect during the recovery process.
Your recovery process is an incredibly crucial part of having a root canal done.
You want to be certain that you follow all of your dentist’s specific instructions so that you don’t end up infecting the tooth or causing other issues.
Most dentists will advise you to stick to soft foods in the first few days after your root canal treatment. (This is especially key if you need to wait a few days to have the tooth permanently sealed.)
You should expect to feel a bit of sensitivity in the first few days after your appointment — and you will likely feel a bit more pain if the tooth had a severe infection.
You will be able to take OTC pain medications, and the pain usually doesn’t last longer than a day.
Above all, it’s important to understand that having a root canal treatment done is far less frightening — and far less painful — than delaying the proper treatment.
Plus, if you don’t take an infected tooth seriously, you could put yourself at risk for serious health problems.
The quality of care that you receive, and the experience of the dental professionals you work with, will make all the difference when it comes to putting you at ease and giving you excellent results.
When it comes to your oral health, don’t settle for anything less than the best.
At Dr Meenu Giri Family Dentistry, we offer a wide variety of dental treatments, emergency procedures, and other services. We’re committed to providing you with compassionate care every step of the way.
Reach out to us today to book an initial consultation for a root canal, and start getting your smile back on track.