Root canal therapy is often the best way to preserve a natural tooth and prevent further damage to your smile. Dr. Brent Engelberg will save a natural tooth with root canal therapy whenever possible because it provides many benefits for long-term dental health. Once you lose the tooth root, the jawbone begins to deteriorate. A root canal helps to avoid this and preserve that tooth root.
There’s a large misconception about root canals. They have a reputation for being painful, making patients nervous to get them. However, root canals often actually relieve the pain in the tooth. A root canal is done because the dental pulp and soft tissue inside the tooth are infected. The infected tissue swells up, causing pain and pressure as it presses against the confines of the tooth.
When a root canal is done, the aim is to remove the infected tissue inside the tooth. This releases pressure and pain in the tooth. A root canal often relieves that pain. It doesn’t cause it.
DO I NEED A ROOT CANAL?
If you think you have an infection, it’s important to get seen by your dentist right away. If the infection spreads, it has severe consequences for oral and overall health. One of the most common indicators of infection is a sharp, sudden pain in the tooth. It may get worse when you’re eating or chewing and often is concentrated around the specific tooth.
However, not all patients experience pain when they have an infection inside. Check the gums around your teeth, as swelling will be present around the infected tooth. You may also notice dark spots on your tooth, a sign that an infection darkens the dental pulp inside.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The root canal procedure is similar to getting a dental filling. We begin by using a local anesthetic to numb the entire area around the infected tooth. If you have issues with dental anxiety or fear of the dentist, we offer sedation dentistry options to assist. These ensure that you stay calm and relaxed throughout the procedure.
Once the anesthetic kicks in, we drill a small hole in the tooth. We’ll use specialized dental tools to clean the infected dental pulp inside the tooth. Once the tissue is removed, we thoroughly clean and sanitize the inside of the tooth. A biocompatible material called gutta-percha is used to fill the empty tooth, and it’s then sealed off.
We’ll often use a dental crown at the end of the root canal procedure. Though the tooth is filled with material, it may not be the most stable. A dental crown seals further infection and ensures full stability in your tooth. You should be able to eat and chew like you normally would after the root canal.
Root Canal FAQs
Root canals are a commonly misunderstood dental treatment. Learn more by reading the answers to these commonly asked questions.
How many days off of work do you need after a root canal?
It is recommended that patients take off at least one day after having a root canal. This means you do not work and rest the day following your root canal. The more rest you get after your procedure, the quicker your recovery and healing process will be. Some more physically intensive jobs may require a bit more time, but the amount of time taken after a root canal is up to the discretion of each patient.
Do I need antibiotics after a root canal?
Dentists sometimes prescribe antibiotics after a root canal, but only if they feel it is necessary. More often than not, patients take nothing more than an OTC pain medication after a root canal. Some medical conditions may cause concern for infection and issues post-operation. In these cases, patients may be prescribed an antibiotic.
Is throbbing pain after a root canal normal?
Some throbbing, swelling, and discomfort are normal after a root canal. This may last anywhere between 2-3 days. It is recommended to avoid chewing with the tooth that was worked on to give it time to recover. Keeping your head elevated can help stop throbbing pains.
Do I need a dental crown after a root canal?
We recommend getting a dental crown after every root canal procedure. If we delay placing a crown or other restoration, the tooth is exposed to further infection and complications. The tooth is more prone to damage or new dental cavities during this time, and your tooth isn’t as stable for proper chewing and biting function.
What should I do right after my root canal?
Wait until your anesthesia wears off before you attempt to eat anything. We don’t want you to accidentally bite into soft tissue when you can’t feel it. Don’t bite down heavily on the treated tooth for at least the first hour. Avoid very hot or cold foods, too, as they can increase sensitivity. Don’t use tobacco products, as they affect the healing process.
Can I brush my teeth after I get a root canal?
You shouldn’t brush your teeth until the anesthesia wears off. After that, you’re free to brush your teeth. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and be extremely gentle when you’re brushing around the treated tooth.