Patients who need root canal treatments are usually anxious about the procedure. One way of reducing this anxiety is having a better understanding of the procedure itself, its importance and the ways in which good oral health positively impact your quality of life.
In the first part of this blog post, we answered some of the most common questions dentists get asked about root canals. If you still have questions however, here are some more answers to help you feel at ease next time you visit your local dental clinic.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER A ROOT CANAL TREATMENT?
You may experience some tenderness and swelling after a root canal treatment. Your follow-up appointment with your dentist is also an important step in your recovery as it will allow for a professional assessment of the procedure’s outcome. To improve the likelihood of a complete, fast and effective healing, you should follow these key aftercare tips:
- Reduce the pressure on the tooth, especially if the crown is not yet placed. As long as there is no crown, the tooth is unprotected. The best way to reduce pressure is to chew on the opposite side of your mouth.
- Take pain medication to reduce discomfort and swelling. Regular over the counter medications will do, but if your dentist gives you a prescription for any medicine or antibiotic, follow their directions and take the medication as prescribed.
- Eat soft foods to avoid damaging the temporary filling.
- Keep good oral hygiene but brush your teeth gently. When brushing or flossing around the treated area, be careful because the tooth and the gums are probably still tender and sensitive. Do not be forceful.
WHY CAN’T I USE ANTIBIOTICS TO TREAT THE INFECTION?
While antibiotics can help control the spread of infection around the infected area before and after a root canal treatment, these will not stop the infection in the tooth.
When a tooth is infected from the inside, the blood vessels in the pulp are affected and they become irritated and inflamed which limits the blood supply in the pulp. For this reason, antibiotics are not always effective at removing an infection inside the tooth.
DOES ROOT CANAL TREATMENT WORK?
When done properly by root canal specialists, these treatments work. Root canals typically have a success rate of 85% to 97%.
ROOT CANAL VS DENTAL EXTRACTION
Dentists always recommend saving your natural teeth.
Your teeth are essential to your oral health, and directly affect your quality of life as well as your appearance. After a dental extraction, it becomes necessary to find a replacement for the missing tooth. Not all replacements are efficient or comfortable, which can lead to multiple visits to the dentist.
WHAT CAN GO WRONG?
While it is rare, a root canal treatment that is not done properly can fail, and the infection can resurface. The failure rate of root canal treatment is 3% to 15%. A slight or accident lack of diligence can be the cause for the failure of a root canal treatment.
It is possible, as well, that anatomical deformations or differences make it more difficult for canals to be cleaned or treated completely. Your dentist will be able to let you know if they have any concerns on this matter.
WHEN IS A ROOT CANAL NEEDED?
While root canal treatment is usually recommended when there is a severe and painful infection inside a tooth, your dentist might also recommend a root canal procedure if your tooth is no longer healthy due to:
- Extensive dental work;
- Large or deep fillings; and
- Deep cracks.
The symptoms of a root canal infection include:
- Severe pain when eating or when there is pressure on the affected tooth;
- Lasting pain and teeth sensitivity to hot or cold foods;
- A bump (abscess) on the gums near the area of the affected tooth;
- The tooth appears to be darkening;
- Tenderness or swelling in the gums near the area of the affected tooth.
HOW PAINFUL IS A ROOT CANAL?
You won’t feel any pain during the root canal treatment since your dentist will give you a local anesthetic. Some patients don’t even feel pain afterwards. If pain or tenderness after the root canal treatment occurs, stay mindful that it could peak 17 to 24 hours after treatment before calming back down.
Tenderness is also common if the infection has spread to the surrounding areas and your body is working to heal the bone.
For root canal pain relief, sleep with your head elevated for a night or two and take the pain medications recommended by your dentist.
HOW CAN I AVOID A ROOT CANAL?
The regular wear and tear on teeth can lead to bacteria entering the tooth and causing an infection. The best prevention is to care for your teeth by:
- Flossing daily;
- Brushing twice a day;
- Avoiding hard foods, such as hard candy;
- Avoiding to bite into other hard foods like nuts and certain vegetables if your teeth are weak;
- Avoiding acidic and sugary foods and drinks;
- Not chewing on ice;
- Wearing a mouth guard to protect your teeth from grinding at night;
- Wearing a mouth guard while playing sports;
- Visiting your dentist for regular checkups and dental cleanings.
If your dentist says, “You need a root canal,” don’t worry and don’t put it off. Root canal specialists know what they’re doing. You can have a successful treatment that removes the infection and gives you relief from that horrible tooth pain.
Dr. Hanan Taraf is an experienced dentist. Her first practice was in Morocco, where she was born and raised. In 2005, she came to Canada, studying at the Université de Montréal where she earned her Canadian DMD Degree, graduating in June of 2010. She’s never stopped learning, however; Dr. Taraf’s dedication to continuing education led her to take further studies so she could offer oral sedation to ensure even the most anxious patients are able to enjoy stress-free treatment. Dr. Taraf is also a graduate from the University of Toronto’s Mini Implant Residency with associate professor Dr. Mark Lin.