Root Canals 101

What is a root canal? A root canal is a treatment to repair and save a badly damaged or infected tooth by removing the damaged area of the tooth (the pulp), cleaning and disinfecting it, and then filling and sealing it.

How do I know if I need a root canal?

If you have pain in a tooth, you may need a root canal. However, not all types of teeth pain means you will need one. Be wary of the following signs:

  • Serious teeth pain when eating or when you put pressure on the are
  • Lingering teeth pain and sensitivity to hot or cold
  • A small, pimple-like bump on the gums near the area of teeth pain
  • Darkening of the tooth
  • Tenderness or swelling in the gums near the area of teeth pain

How will my dentist know if a root canal is the best option?

Unlike other conditions, there is not a test that will come back positive or negative for a root canal. You need to pick an experienced dentist that you can trust. Your dentist will have to determine if the pulp inside the tooth is dead and what the best solution is.

How long can I wait before I get my root canal?

Once you find out you need a root canal, you should immediately start taking antibiotics prescribed by your dentist. The antibiotics are important because your tooth infection can spread to other parts of your body. Believe it or not, a tooth infection can kill you if you let it get out of hand! Once you are on the antibiotics, you should get the procedure done within a month or so.

What happens during the procedure?

Your dentist will give you local anesthetic to numb the area. During the procedure, he will remove the inflamed or infected pulp, clean out the inside of the tooth, and then fill and seal the space. Some dentists do the whole procedure in one sitting, while others require two or three appointments.

What happens after the procedure?

You shouldn’t bite or chew on the treated tooth until you have had it restored with a crown by your dentist, which should be done as soon as possible. You may experience some pain after the procedure, but your dentist can prescribe medication to ease the pain.

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