Most people who hear the term root canal imagine a painful and drawn-out procedure. Although nobody really wants to get one, advances in modern medicine makes it far less uncomfortable than it used to be. Typically, the pain experienced before the appointment is actually worse than anything that occurs during or afterwards. An endodontist can walk patients through the procedure beforehand, but it is a good idea to have some background information prior to going in.
The root canal process
Unfortunately, many people experience unpleasant symptoms if they need a root canal. While some people put off going to the dentist as long as possible, the pain is usually enough to bring them in. Someone experiencing one or more of the following symptoms should call their dentist right away:
- Severe tooth pain
- Darkening of the tooth
- Extreme tooth sensitivity
- Swelling of the gums
Putting off being seen for too long could cause the situation to become even more serious, and it can lead to the tooth having to be removed completely.
During the appointment the dentist inspects the infected area and performs a complete examination. X-rays are usually done before a diagnosis is made. It is important that the complete medical history is given and that the dentist is made aware of all symptoms that the patient has been experiencing. After the diagnosis is made, the dentist suggests a treatment plan and the procedure is scheduled.
Before the procedure begins, the endodontist applies a local anesthetic to the infected area. This numbs the tooth and gums so the patient should not feel what is happening. In fact, many people fall asleep while the root canal is happening. Once the mouth is prepped and ready, the endodontist starts removing the decay.
Essentially, the canal inside the tooth’s root is cleared out during this time. The infection is usually caused by bacteria entering the pulp in the tooth, which leads to decay. The dead pulp is removed during the procedure and the canal is carefully cleaned out. This area is typically filled in later, after it has had time to heal. Many dentists also place a crown over the tooth to protect it from further infection.
Although patients are able to resume normal activity after the procedure, they should still take some precautions to avoid any further damage or pain. After the local anesthesia wares off, the soreness can usually be managed with over-the-counter medications. The area is typically tender for a few days, but many people feel relief afterwards from the primary pain of the infection. Generally, it is a good idea to avoid eating overly hard foods in the days following. Any post-care plan given by the endodontist should be carefully followed.
Even though it has a bad reputation, a root canal can actually help save someone’s tooth and provide pain relief. Schedule a consultation with an endodontist to find out more about the procedure. Never let a toothache go untreated for long.
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