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 due to deep decay, repeated dental procedures on a tooth, large fillings, a crack or chip in the tooth, or trauma to the face. During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed. Back teeth (molars and pre-molars) that have been treated with root canal therapy should have crowns on them to prevent them from fracturing.
Is This Going to Hurt?
Root canal procedures have the reputation of being painful. Actually, most people 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.
What are the Signs That a Root Canal is Needed?
Severe toothache pain upon chewing or application of pressure
Prolonged sensitivity/pain to heat or cold temperatures (after the hot or cold has been removed)
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 Should I Expect After the 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 recontamination 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.
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