Over the years, root canals became synonymous with the worst of the dental experience. Fortunately, the pain that was once a necessary part of the procedure is long gone, thanks to contemporary anesthetics and pain management techniques.
There remains much mystery around root canals for many people, though — questions about why they’re needed and what they accomplish. But the reasons and procedure are easy to understand, and knowing what to expect helps reduce the stress connected with the unknown. Here’s some information about root canals from the team of dentists at Rifkin Dental.
Why root canals are needed
Your teeth are composed of three primary parts:
- Outer enamel
- Middle dentin
- Inner pulp
Root canals become necessary when the pulp becomes infected or inflamed. This may occur because of a cavity, chip, crack, or other injury that affects the pulp. Without addressing the infection of the pulp, pain is likely to continue, and an abscess may form.
The soft pulp tissue must be removed from the tooth once it’s compromised. In many cases, the structural integrity of the tooth is still intact, so there’s no need to extract the tooth. Your jaw and the root of your tooth have a supportive relationship, so leaving the tooth in place is usually the best choice.
The root canal procedure
There are three general steps to the root canal.
We need to create an access opening into the tooth’s pulp. After you receive anesthesia, we drill this access hole into your tooth and clear the infected tissue from the pulp chamber.
We thoroughly clean out the pulp chamber and shape it so it’s ready to receive the filler material. If the crown of your tooth is damaged, we may place a post to help support later reconstruction over the damaged area.
We fill the access opening, sealing off the tooth. With no open space within the tooth, there’s no place for bacteria to collect and cause another infection.
We often recommend crowns for a tooth that undergoes a root canal procedure to add strength and protect the tooth against future damage, but this doesn’t have to be done at the time of the root canal.
Preparing for your root canal
While root canals are common dental procedures that we perform quite often, there are a few things you can do to aid a successful outcome. Consider any or all these tips:
Your comfort and ease is important, so if you have questions ahead of the procedure, don’t hesitate to ask, as this may help ease any anxiety or tension you’re feeling.
The effects of nicotine change the way blood flows through your body and lengthens the time it takes to recover from your procedure.
Particularly if you have allergies, the right antibiotic can help reduce pain prior to your root canal as well as ensuring no further infection results.
Take pain medication as advised
You may be asked to take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen before your root canal to reduce inflammation around the tooth as well as help with your pain management.
Eat before the root canal
Because of the strength of the anesthetic, you probably won’t be able to eat comfortably for several hours after the procedure, so have a meal two hours or more before your appointment to avoid this distraction
Having a root canal is no longer an ordeal, and it can preserve your damaged tooth for years to come. When a root canal becomes necessary, contact the dental professionals at either office of Rifkin Dental. You can make an appointment today by phone or through the online booking tool on this website.