If your dentist recently told you that you need a root canal, you probably have a lot of questions about what to expect. Below, we’ve answered some of those frequently asked questions to put your mind at ease.
Root canals have a reputation for being a painful procedure, but the truth is that today’s root canal treatment is typically no more unpleasant than getting a filling. The inflammation and infection inside the tooth are far more painful than the treatment, so a root canal actually relieves discomfort. Medical advances have rendered root canals a virtually pain-free procedure, especially when your dentist is experienced in pain management and equipped with modern techniques and anesthetics.
While pain may be the first indication of damage to your tooth’s pulp, the absence of pain doesn’t mean the tooth is healthy. The discomfort may go away with the use of pain relief medication or antibiotics, and in fact, some patients never experience any pain with an infected tooth. Since patients are encouraged to have their teeth cleaned and examined every six months, an infection is often discovered through routine examination rather than patient-reported symptoms. Ultimately, if you’ve experienced tooth pain, get it checked out by a dentist, even if the pain has subsided.
A root canal is needed to disinfect the inside of the tooth and prevent the spread of infection. If the source of the infection is not removed and the tooth is not treated, the infection can spread and an abscess will form. An abscess indicates that the infection has spread to the jawbone and surrounding tissues. If this happens, you will not only need to treat the infected tooth, but you will also have to treat or remove the surrounding teeth. The infection can also spread to tissues like the face, the mouth, and the brain. In other words, abstaining from a root canal can lead to more pain, more damage, and higher costs.
Some patients do experience discomfort and bruising around the root canal site after the procedure. Aftercare is very important post-treatment in order to speed up recovery time and prevent further damage. To reduce stress to the treated tooth, avoid chewing on that side of your mouth and stick to soft foods. Continue to brush and floss your teeth, but do so gently around the site of the root canal. If you are experiencing discomfort or inflammation, you can take over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory medication like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen.
A root canal is a simple and effective procedure performed thousands of times each day by dentists in the United States. If you have additional questions or are looking for more information about family dentistry, root canals, and other dental care procedures, contact Lynnwood Dental today.