Root canal treatment is necessary when the pulp (soft tissue inside your teeth containing blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue) becomes inflamed or diseased.
During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp are removed, and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed. Without treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth will become infected, and abscesses may form.
What Does Root Canal Mean?
“Root canal” is the term used to describe the natural cavity within the center of the tooth. The pulp or pulp chamber is the soft area within the root canal. The tooth’s nerve lies within the root canal.
Why is a Root Canal Needed?
When a tooth’s nerve tissue or pulp is damaged, it breaks down, and bacteria begin to grow, causing an infection or abscess that must be treated.
What Causes the Nerve/Pulp Damage?
A tooth’s nerve and pulp can become irritated, inflamed, and infected due to deep decay, repeated dental procedures on a certain tooth, large fillings, a crack or chip in the tooth, and even trauma to the face.
How Do I Know if I Need a Root Canal?
Dr. Hicks and team will know from your exams and x-rays whether a root canal is needed. At home, be aware of the following potential indicators:
- Severe tooth pain, when chewing or when pressure is applied
- Prolonged sensitivity (pain) to hot or cold
- Darkening of the tooth
- Swelling and tenderness in nearby gums
Is a Root Canal Painful?
Root canals have the reputation of being painful. The truth is, most people report that the procedure itself is no more painful than getting a filling. You will receive the appropriate level of sedation to help you through.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From A Root Canal?
For the first few days after a root canal, the tooth may feel sensitive due to natural tissue inflammation. Over-the-counter pain relievers help. Most patients can return to their normal activities the next day.
How Can I Avoid Needing A Root Canal?
You can lessen your chances of needing a root canal by:
- Staying current with your twice-yearly exams and cleanings
- Brushing twice a day for two minutes or more each time
- Flossing daily, using an antiseptic mouthwash, and
- Avoiding injury to the face and teeth
Even with precautions, many people still need a root canal at some point in their lives. They are nothing to fear and must be done when warranted to avoid serious complications.