This page covers a variety of information on root canals and the treatment process. If you need more information or are ready to schedule an appointment, please call us or stop in our office located in Park Ridge, IL.
About Root Canal Treatments
The goal of a root canal treatment is to restore your tooth to its normal healthy function. This page guides you through the process of recovering from a root canal.
What happens if I don’t get my root canal treated
Symptoms that lead to a root canal
The treatment process
Recovery tips: how to have the least pain during recovery
Nerve damage can be caused by array of different things from fillings that leak, decay in the teeth, or damage due to some trauma. These causes do not necessarily lead to root canals, but if left untreated that may be one of the final options.
A root canal is a treatment that is meant to remove the nerve structure from the inside of the tooth that has been damaged or has an infection. It is also referred to as ‘endodontics’. This happens when infection or inflammation affects the tooth. The typical tooth contains four layers, which are enamel, dentin, cementum and dental pulp. The pulp and nerve tissue is found deep within the tooth. For this treatment, the internal areas that are within the tooth and have sustained damage are removed, and the space that is left is filled in with material that seals the tooth. Once this material has been put in, a crown is put in place over the tooth as a way of protecting the tooth from fracturing.
What can happen if left untreated?
Once the pulp has been infected, it becomes possible for the infection to spread and lead to an abscess. The area around the abscess becomes inflamed and painful. If this condition is left untreated, it will continue to spread, damaging surrounding tissue and possibly leading to larger health issues that can affect the rest of your body.
Symptoms that lead to Root Canal Treatment
When you have an infection in your teeth, it may be difficult for you to tell that something is wrong until quite some time has passed. This is because problems with the teeth may not cause pain or discomfort. The moment you experience the following symptoms, you should get in touch with your dentist to ensure that your teeth are checked out. The symptoms include:
- Localized pain. This may start out as a mild throbbing and can then elevate to severe searing pain.
- Inflammation or irritation around the infected tooth.
- Discoloration of the tooth whereby it turns darker.
- Tenderness of the teeth when you bite into food.
- Any swelling or drainage in the area of pain.
Getting the Treatment Done
The procedure for a root canal can take 1 appointment or may take many appointments. This is on a case by case basis and the complexity of the tooth that is in need of treatment. First off, your tooth is numbed for comfort. The area of the nerve is accessed by a small hole in the tooth. The infected nerve tissue is then removed and cleaned out. Once everything is cleaned, a material is placed to seal the area where the nerve had previously been. For about 2 weeks a temporary filling is placed in the small hole that was made in the tooth to make sure that the root canal was successful before putting a permanent filling or crown on the tooth.
How to have the least pain while recovering from a root canal.
Take care with what you eat.
When you finish the treatment, you should wait until you are completely healed so that you can go back to using your teeth as normal. This is a procedure that requires some time to ensure healing is complete. During the healing period, you are usually supposed to be careful of what you eat, and you should avoid foods that have extreme hot or cold temperatures. This also includes beverages. Avoid consuming chewy or hard foods for a short period of time, to ensure that everything heals.
Control normal pain with medication but know when to contact your endodontist.
It’s common for the area around your root canal to be a little sore during your recovery period. A little tenderness is normal during your healing process. Over the counter pain medication can help you alleviate pain in your mouth and jaw. Always remember to read your medication instructions as some prescription may cause drowsiness. This means extra caution should be taken when driving or operating machinery while on a prescription pain killer.
If you have excessive pain after your root canal recovery, get in touch with your endodontist immediately.
Don’t eat anything until your numbness is gone.
You’ll want to wait until any numbness is gone in your mouth and jaw before eating. That way you’ll avoid accidentally biting your tongue or cheek.
Continue daily brushing and flossing.
Brush and floss your teeth like normal. While doing your daily routine you notice a little wear on your temporary filling. This is normal and to be expected. But if your entire filling comes out, you’ll need to contact your endodontist.
Here are several other reasons to contact your endodontist during your root canal recovery:
- Swelling inside or outside the mouth that is clearly visible.
- Allergic reactions such as a sudden rash that may be related to medication
- Other symptoms you had check that have returned
Once your root canal treatment has been completed by your endodontist, you’ll need to return to your dentist. The goal of the root canal treatment is to give you normal function of your tooth again. But the treatment is only the first part. A final restoration of your tooth will lead to your best long term health.