A root canal is a treatment used to save a tooth that is badly decayed and/or becomes infected. Nerve and pulp, the soft area within the center of the tooth, can become irritated, inflamed, and infected for many reasons: deep decay, repeated dental procedures on a single tooth, large fillings, a crack or chip in the tooth, or trauma to the face. During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp are removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed.
Root canal procedures have the reputation of being painful. In reality, most patients report that the procedure itself is no more painful than having a filling placed. The discomfort experienced in the period leading up to dental care is truly the painful period of time, not the root canal procedure itself.
SIGNS THAT YOU POSSIBLY NEED A ROOT CANAL
- Severe tooth pain upon chewing or application of pressure
- Prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold temperatures
- Discoloration (a darkening) of the tooth
- Swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums
- A persistent or recurring pimple on the gums
- Sometimes no symptoms are present
WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER A ROOT CANAL
The root canal procedure should relieve the pain you feel. Until your root canal procedure is completely finished – that is to say, the permanent filling is in place and/or the crown is placed – it is wise to minimize chewing on the tooth under repair. This step will help avoid re-contamination of the interior of the tooth and also may prevent a fragile tooth from breaking before the tooth can be fully restored. For the first few days following the completion of treatment, the tooth may feel sensitive due to natural tissue inflammation, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure.
As far as oral health care is concerned, brush and floss as you regularly would and see your dentist at normally scheduled intervals. The final step of the root canal procedure is application of a restoration such as a crown, to cover and protect the tooth.