Cracks and chips in your teeth, and untreated cavities, increase the likelihood of you developing an infected tooth that may require root canal therapy.
If this is you, and you currently experience pain in a tooth and surrounding gum area, especially severe, consistent pain, this could be a sign that you may need a root canal treatment. Severe, constant pain usually associated with Abscesses, pus from gums, tooth discoloration, and pressure and temperature sensitivity are also symptoms.
You may wonder, then, about the treatment and how long you can expect the healing process to take.
What Are Root Canals?
Inside each tooth is dental pulp, which is living tissue, within the root of the tooth. This tissue contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. Root canals are the tunnels inside tooth roots where the pulp sits.
If you have an untreated infection or cavity, bacteria spreads through the pulp in the root canals. As a result, abscesses may form. Once bacteria are in the pulp and root canal area, the tooth’s nerves and blood supply in the root canal are compromised, and a root canal treatment is needed to prevent the tooth from needing to be pulled. If untreated, the infection can spread to other teeth and impacts overall health, not just oral health.
When Is Root Canal Therapy Required?
To prevent infection from spreading further to other teeth, and to save the affected tooth, root canal therapy, or treatment, is done. Root canal treatments are done in cases where simple fillings won’t work to prevent larger oral health concerns.
A diagnosis will be completed, after tests and x-rays, to determine if a root canal treatment is necessary. The root canal process will be handled by a root canal specialist, as this endodontic work is complex.
What Is Involved In A Root Canal Treatment?
A root canal treatment involves cleaning and medicating the infected nerve or root canal of a tooth before filling it. The root canal procedure is time-consuming, and a second appointment may be needed. A local anesthetic is used for the surgery, and the surgeon will manually clean out the infected tooth pulp, and rinse it with antibacterial solutions.
If the case is very long and complex, a temporary filling is applied and a second appointment will need to be made. This may seem to delay your overall healing, but it is important to do the job thoroughly and completely, so it is better to have the second appointment to fully clean the tooth, for a better result and full recovery.
Once the root canal is cleaned to the endodontist’s satisfaction, the treated tooth is filled and sealed with a permanent filling to protect it from getting infected again, as well as to strengthen the tooth structure.
A dental crown may be necessary to protect the tooth further and may require an additional appointment.
After a root canal procedure, there may be swelling for a few days. If you needed to have the procedure over a couple of appointments, you will experience this each time. Root canal recovery time varies. Different people will have different recovery periods; some people will feel better after a few days, while others take a couple of weeks.
You may be given a prescription for antibiotics, pain medication, and anti-inflammatory medications.
Speed Up the Process
To heal faster and avoid injury, avoid hot foods and liquids, as well as chewing, while the anesthetic wears off. Avoid chewing on the treated side until swelling and pain have reduced and the area is fully healed; the soft tissue continues to heal afterward and this can be slowed by heavy chewing. Also, avoid spicy foods and alcohol. Maintain good oral hygiene, and follow your endodontist’s recommendations.
After a couple of weeks, the tooth will have had a chance to recover, and pain will be improved. If it has not improved by this point, consult your dentist. Be sure to contact your dentist if you have any other dental problems, including swelling that does not go away, or if your temporary filling has come out.
If a follow-up appointment is needed for a crown or any other purpose, be sure to return, as this is essential to protect and strengthen the tooth and reduces the risk of inflammation.
After the anesthetic wears off, you may experience minor soreness or throbbing pain from the thorough cleaning process. You may have stiff jaw muscles, from keeping your mouth open throughout.
Your dentist may prescribe medication to reduce tooth pain, or ibuprofen can be taken later as needed and as recommended by your dentist.
What If You Did Not Have a Root Canal Treatment?
If the underlying condition is ignored, the infection becomes increasingly severe. Pus and abscesses build up. Swelling spreads into the neck, face, and eyes. Bone loss around the infected roots can occur, too. The pain will become more intense, and you may need an emergency hospital visit. Untreated, you will also likely need to have the tooth extracted.
It is important to remember that a root canal treatment is one of the more common dental procedures. If you are nervous that it might be painful, the alternative of not having your tooth treated is more painful and harmful to your oral and general health.
Suspect You May Need a Root Canal Treatment?
Gateshead Dental are reliable professionals you can count on for your root canal treatment. We maintain the highest standards of work, in a pleasant and caring environment. If you have any questions or concerns about needing a root canal treatment, we can put your mind at ease.