Root canal therapy is a dental procedure used to fix teeth with damaged pulp tissues. The term pulp refers to the soft tissues that are contained in the pulp chamber, like nerves and connective tissues. This part of the tooth is sealed off from the rest of it, so bacteria, saliva, and acids in the…
Questions to Ask About Root Canal Treatment
When a tooth's pulp has become infected, a root canal treatment may be the only way to save the tooth. Fortunately, modern advances help make this procedure faster and more comfortable than ever, and it typically is far easier than extracting and replacing an entire tooth.
What to ask a dentist about root canal treatment
As with any other type of dental work, patients should discuss any recommended or upcoming treatments with a dentist. Asking the right questions can put patients more at ease while helping them feel more prepared for the procedure.
What happens during root canal treatment?
First and foremost, the dentist takes steps to ensure the patient is as comfortable and pain-free as possible during the procedure. Then, the dentist drills into the tooth to access the infected pulp. All of the diseased tissue is removed and the now-empty canal is sterilized to eliminate all bacteria. Finally, the hole is permanently sealed and a dental crown may be put in place to protect and reinforce the tooth.
Is the procedure uncomfortable?
While some slight discomfort may be experienced during a root canal treatment, it is generally comparable to having a cavity filled. Patients may be sore for a day or two afterward, but the most severe pain usually takes place before treatment ever occurs, when the affected tooth becomes infected and the pulp is inflamed. In the end, a root canal relieves more pain than it causes.
What should patients expect during recovery?
Sometimes, a dentist may place a temporary crown after the root canal treatment is complete. If this is the case, patients should avoid tough, chewy, or sticky foods until the permanent crown is in place. Pain and discomfort should be minimal, but patients can take over-the-counter pain medication to help. Tooth sensitivity may develop but should only last for a few days.
How can a patient avoid root canal treatment in the future?
Most of the time, the tooth pulp becomes infected when decay is left untreated and continues to break down the tooth deep below the surface. Injury to a tooth, such as a chip or crack, can also allow bacteria to make their way to the pulp, leading to an infection. Patients can reduce the risks of needing a root canal in the future by:
- Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day
- Limiting acidic and sugary foods to prevent enamel loss and decay
- Maintaining regular dental appointments
- Having cavities treated promptly.
While many dental patients want to avoid a root canal at all costs, this treatment can be essential for saving a diseased tooth. Some discomfort is to be expected, but for most people it is manageable with medication and a little time. Talking openly with a dentist about what to expect can make the appointment much easier for anxious patients. Excellent home care and routine checkups can help prevent the need for another root canal treatment in the future.
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