Root canals are considered to be the boogeyman of the dentist by many patients (root canals and wisdom teeth removal, too). However, you don’t need to be afraid of having a root canal. Root canals have become a much less frightening procedure as technology has advanced; now, they’re not frightening whatsoever. Or at least, they shouldn’t be to you. While it is oral surgery, it is perfectly safe and necessary in some cases to preserve dental health. There is nothing to be afraid of if you’re told you need a root canal. In this article, we’ll talk about what a root canal is, when you need to get one, how to ensure a smooth recovery, and how to treat your mouth in the interim.
What is a root canal?
A root canal can be needed in cases of decay or infection. Another possible cause is damage to the pulp from facial trauma or other injuries. The root canal is the cavity inside your tooth that contains pulp and a nerve. The pulp is connective, living tissue and odontoblast cells that deteriorate when your tooth decays or becomes infected. The nerve inside the cavity is not necessary; it becomes obsolete after the tooth emerges from the gum—it’s only there to detect hot and cold sensations. You won’t experience problems if the nerve is removed by a professional, like the dentists at Premier Smile Center, who specialize in root canals. During a root canal, the pulp and nerve inside your tooth are removed. The inside of your tooth is then cleaned thoroughly and tightly sealed.
What happens if you need a root canal but don’t get one?
Bad things. Bacteria may build up, and the tooth can become abscessed as the infection spreads past the ends of the tooth’s root. A root infection can also lead to severe swelling that can spread to the cranial and neck regions, deterioration and loss of the bone surrounding the root, and drainage into the cheek and skin of your face. These scary effects should make it clear that a root canal is the least of all evils and it’s not an “evil” at all. Root canals can save your tooth and prevent serious destruction. Think of them as the “Superman” of dentistry.
Ensuring a smooth recovery
Once you’re out of the endodontist’s chair, you’re going to need a bit of time to recover. As your body undergoes a natural healing process, there will be tenderness in the region for a few days. Your jaw may also feel a little sore. Luckily, this discomfort can be managed with over-the-counter pain medication. If you choose something stronger, remember that narcotics can lead to drowsiness and you shouldn’t operate a motor vehicle or any type of potentially dangerous machinery during this time period.
How to treat your mouth after a root canal
Your mouth will be numb after the root canal, so you should not eat or drink anything until that numbness has completely worn off. You could bite your cheek or tongue pretty badly if you try to munch on something while you’re still not able to feel — and you don’t want to be heading back to the dentist for stitches right after you get your root canal. Until you’ve had the tooth restored, don’t chew or bite on it. Leave it alone. While it’s not uncommon for temporary fillings to lose a thin layer, call your dentist immediately if you think the whole filling has come out. Schedule your aftercare appointment right away as well.
Root canals are nothing to be afraid of. Perhaps 100 years ago, they would be terrifying but really, what medical procedure wouldn’t have been? Today, they’re a piece of cake — no lie.