What is a Root Canal?
A root canal is a common outpatient procedure that is performed on over 14 million people a year. This simple treatment of the pulp of the tooth can help save your natural teeth and prevent the need for implants or bridges in the future.
The pulp is a soft substance in the center of the tooth that consists of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. The nerve is not a crucial element for the health of the tooth and will not affect its day-to-day function of it. However, the nerve is sensory and provides the sensation of cold or hot. The pulp chamber is the hollow part in the center of the tooth that contains the pulp, and it continues down canals that extend through the roots of teeth and into the surrounding bone. Due to trauma, deep decay, cracks, or repeated dental procedures, this pulp can become inflamed, infected, or dead, leading to the need for a root canal.
Signs You May Need a Root Canal
While a root canal will not always be the answer to your tooth pain, there are some signs and symptoms to look for. Please contact us at (901) 459-3463 to discuss your treatment options if you are experiencing any of the following:
- Severe tooth pain, particularly spontaneous pain
- Pimple-like bumps on your gums also called a fistula
- Lingering sensitivity to hot and cold
- Tender, painful to the touch, and swollen gums
- Darkening of the gums
- Chipped and cracked tooth
- An abscess
These symptoms may not always lead to a root canal, but discussing them with your dentist can help get to the root of the problem.
What to Expect from a Root Canal
A root canal is a non-surgical treatment that is typically performed in one to three visits. Your dentist or endodontist will remove the injured pulp and thoroughly clean and seal the root canal system. After cleaning, a tooth with little will be filled with a dental composite. If your tooth has extensive decay, your dentist may recommend a crown to protect it from further breakage.
Typically, a local anesthetic is used to numb the area, and the procedure can be completed fairly quickly depending on the amount of treatment required. You should be able to drive home and return to your normal activities, although there may be some discomfort in the days following the procedure.
READ MORE: What to Expect from a Root Canal
What Does Root Canal Recovery Look Like?
Root canal recovery is quick, and should not last longer than a week. Mild discomfort is expected in the first few days but should be easily manageable with medication.
Eating After a Root Canal
You can eat after a root canal but it’s suggested to wait until the numbness wears off. Even so, softer foods like pasta, potatoes, and yogurts are recommended for the first few days. As your discomfort decreases, you can begin to introduce solid foods. You should also try to chew with the side of your mouth that did not have a root canal procedure until your dentist places a permanent restoration, if applicable.
Driving After a Root Canal
Most root canal procedures are done with local anesthesia or nitrous oxide, and therefore you should be able to drive yourself to and from the office. However, longer or more in-depth procedures may require oral or IV sedation. In these instances, you will need someone to drive you until the full effects wear off.
Returning to School or Work After a Root Canal
You should be able to return to work or school the day following your root canal. However, if you were sedated, you may need an extra day or so to recover.
If your root canal recovery is lasting longer than a week or you experience pain, you should contact your dentist immediately for further consultation.
How Long Do Root Canal Results Last?
While results are not guaranteed, a properly performed root canal coupled with a proper regimen of dental care should lead to long-lasting root canal results, possibly even the duration of your life.
If you are experiencing any symptoms outlined here or believe you may be in need of a root canal, set up a free consultation to discuss your symptoms and treatment options.
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