Pain, sensitivity, or swelling in or near a tooth can be more than uncomfortable—it can affect your quality of life. Yet while root canal therapy can eliminate this pain quickly and effectively, many people put off getting the treatment they need to alleviate this discomfort as an outcome of fear or general understanding of the problem. Understanding the steps involved in root canal therapy and what to expect during the process can ease any anxiety and help you make an informed decision.
Signs You Might Need a Root Canal
When is a root canal necessary? Common signs that you may need a root canal include:
- Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
- Severe pain when eating
- Tenderness or swelling in the gums near a tooth
- A darkening of the problematic tooth
- A persistent pimple on the gums
If you experience one or more of these symptoms, it’s important to seek treatment right away. The sooner root canal therapy is performed, the better your chances of restoring the affected tooth and minimizing discomfort.
The Steps Involved in Root Canal Therapy
Typically, a root canal will take between 30 minutes to an hour. Your root canal specialist will go through the following steps:
- Anesthesia – You’ll receive a local anesthetic to the affected area, ensuring you remain comfortable throughout the procedure. If you feel any pain or discomfort, let your root canal specialist know right away. Some patients may prefer sedation dentistry if they feel uncomfortable or anxious about the treatment.
- Creating an access point – An opening is created in the tooth to reach the pulp. Your endodontist will use a small dental drill and other tools to make this opening.
- Cleaning and shaping the canal – The pulp, bacteria, and any debris will be cleaned out and the root canal is shaped.
- Filling the root canals – Your endodontist may use a rubbery material called gutta-percha and a sealer paste to fill the root canal.
- Sealing the tooth – First, a temporary filling will be placed. You’ll need a follow-up appointment to have a permanent crown or other restoration put in place.
- Placing a crown – A dental crown is necessary to protect the tooth, restore its shape and appearance, and provide strength.
Laser-assisted root canals are also available for those who want minimally invasive treatment. These procedures are often faster and more comfortable than traditional root canal therapy, and they are available at Access Endodontics.
Root Canal Treatment Aftercare Tips
The success of root canal therapy depends largely on how well you care for the area afterward. Here are six aftercare tips to follow:
- Take medication as prescribed – Pain medications and antibiotics, if necessary, should be taken as directed for optimal healing and comfort.
- Avoid chewing on the treated tooth – Chewing or biting on the treated tooth can cause damage and infection.
- Maintain good oral hygiene – Brushing twice a day and flossing at least once will help keep bacteria in check and prevent infection.
- Eat soft foods – Avoid hard and crunchy foods for the first few days. Stick to easy-to-chew items like yogurt, soup, and mashed potatoes.
- Avoid sticky foods – Sugary, sticky foods should be avoided in order to protect the affected tooth from damage.
- Schedule follow-up visits – Regular checkups are necessary to ensure the root canal therapy is successful and that no infection has occurred.
If pain and discomfort persist, contact your root canal specialist right away.
Schedule an Appointment at Access Endodontics Today
For high-quality care using cutting-edge technology, reach out to Access Endodontics at 410.304.7226 today. Dr. Lina Jarboe and Dr. Burton Waxman’s decades of experience enable them to offer you the best possible root canal therapy and restorative services. We look forward to helping you restore your oral health.