No one relishes the idea of needing a root canal procedure. Unfortunately, this very common treatment is sometimes necessary when a tooth is severely damaged to the point that the dental pulp is inflamed or infected. Although a root canal procedure is certainly not to be taken lightly, it does help the patient save their natural tooth.
About 14 million people annually undergo a root canal procedure. Unfortunately, many people mistakenly delay needed root canals because they fear pain or discomfort. In reality, the root canal procedure does not cause pain; it relieves it.
Why would I need a root canal procedure?
Your dentist or endodontist may recommend that you undergo a root canal procedure if you suffer from any of the following:
Fractured or cracked tooth
Damaged dental pulp
Are root canals always needed for damaged teeth?
No. A root canal is not always needed in every situation.
Chipped tooth: If the crack or chip is only on the surface of the tooth, a dental filling should be able to restore the tooth. If the dental pulp is exposed, a root canal procedure may be necessary.
Extruded tooth: When a tooth is knocked out of position, most patients require a root canal to repair the root.
Avulsed tooth: If a tooth is knocked out completely and immediate care is provided, the tooth can probably be put back into its socket and restored using a root canal procedure.
What are some signs that I may need a root canal procedure?
Patients typically need a root canal procedure after the onset of a severe infection that leads to sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. You may also experience ongoing swelling around your gums. In some cases, the damage is not visible. Your dentist may need to take x-rays to reveal the extent of the tooth damage.
What To Expect
Root canal procedures normally only take one dental appointment. Once your dentist has thoroughly evaluated you, they will numb the area of treatment. They will then remove all tooth decay and bacteria, sealing the tooth to guard against further decay or damage. They will seal the inside of the tooth using a material called gutta-percha.
Your dentist will also place a dental filling on top of the treated tooth. They would also likely recommend that you return to have a dental crown placed on the tooth, which will now be weaker after the root canal procedure.
Patients are often amazed at how instantly their pain is relieved following a root canal procedure. The dental pulp contains numerous nerve endings. Once it is removed, pain relief is almost instantaneous. And the best part is that you get to keep your natural tooth.
If you should experience any pain or discomfort after your root canal procedure, over-the-counter pain relievers should suffice. It helps to chew on the other side of your mouth while the area that underwent the root canal is healing.