If you’re in pain with a toothache and have been putting off a visit to the dentist, you might have an infection in the centre of your tooth, which requires a root canal. In this post we share everything you need to know about root canal treatment including what to expect, when you might need one and how to recover from treatment.
What is a root canal?
A root canal, also known as endodontic treatment, is a dental procedure to fill a deep cavity caused by decay, to repair a cracked tooth caused by injury or to replace a previous leaky filling. When we talk about a root canal, we mean an infection at the centre of your tooth, caused by one of the three issues mentioned above. The root canal system of your tooth goes from the crown (the visible part of the tooth you can see) to the root (the part you can’t see, which anchors your tooth into the jaw bone).
You’ll only need root canal treatment if the pulp at the centre of your tooth has become damaged by the infection. So how do you know if this is the case?
How do you know if you need root canal treatment?
When you have an infection in the centre of your tooth you will almost always know about it, as it may cause you pain and discomfort. You might experience:
- Pain when eating, particularly when biting and chewing
- Pain when drinking hot or cold drinks
- Tooth feeling loose
If you have these symptoms for a while and then they disappear, don’t be fooled, as this may mean the infection has progressed down the root and eventually you will experience further symptoms such as swollen gums around the affected tooth, facial swelling and pus coming from the tooth.
It’s really important that you speak to your dentist as soon as you can, because ignoring an infection like this can result in a dental abscess which can be incredibly painful.
What does the treatment involve?
The only way to treat the infection is to remove the bacteria, which can either be done by removing the tooth, or undergoing root canal treatment. As keeping your tooth is the preferred option, you will most likely need to have a root canal, which will involve removing the bacteria, filling the root canal and sealing it with a crown or filling.
The treatment may take a few hours, so it may need to be carried out over several appointments.
Do root canals hurt?
This is the question we get asked most often when it comes to root canals and the truth is that a root canal is no more painful than a normal dental procedure. You will usually be given a local anaesthetic before the treatment starts and it will therefore be no more unpleasant than having a regular filling. The only difference is that the treatment may be longer and require more visits.
Root canal procedures have a high success rate and in 90% of cases, the root canal will last for up to another 10 years.
Looking after your teeth post treatment
Once your treatment is finished, the restored tooth shouldn’t be painful, but it might be a little sensitive for a few days. It’s really important during this time, and afterwards, to take extra special care of your teeth and gums and to avoid biting and eating hard foods.
You can take over the counter painkillers as directed by your dentist or pharmacist to help relieve any discomfort, but if you are still in pain or have swelling you should get in touch with your dentist.
What’s great about root canal treatment is that it can save a tooth that would otherwise, in the past, have been extracted. Holding on to your natural teeth is such a great advantage not only to your oral health but also your appearance and confidence, so looking after your teeth, spotting the signs that a root canal might be needed and getting in touch with your dentist as soon as possible are all crucial to keeping your smile in great condition.
At Dentalia our skilled dental team offers root canal treatment in a professional yet relaxed environment. To find out more about the root canal process and how it can restore your smile please click here.
To book an appointment please call 01256 353033 or contact us here.