Your teeth are supposed to last your entire lifetime. However, despite many advancements through the years in medical and dental technology, there’s no guarantee your teeth will stay healthy enough to make it.
In the past, teeth would automatically be pulled if a problem was detected. Nowadays, root canals are a plausible option for those who wish to save their teeth from being pulled due to a pulp-based infection.
The pulp of your teeth is the soft tissue containing nerves and blood vessels. When the pulp incurs issues such as infection, treatment is required. Infection and inflammation most often occur in cases of teeth with deep cavities, cracks and chips, or other serious teeth-related issues.
Root canals are utilized when the pulp of a tooth is rotting, infected, or cavity-filled, and the person hopes to save their teeth. If the pulp in question isn’t removed, the tissues of and around the tooth can become infected, even if pain is not a symptom. Dangerous bacteria can still grow where your toothbrush can’t reach it.
The Danger of Removing Teeth
Removing teeth may seem like a better option for those who don’t want to risk surgery, but it is not without its own risks. The surrounding teeth may shift if a tooth is removed, causing other issues such as difficulty chewing or cleaning your teeth. Removing teeth can also affect your cardiovascular system down the road, as your teeth and heart share a lymphatic system, and any issues in the cavity where your tooth once was can spread further into the body.
Root Canal Surgery
The surgery itself is fairly straightforward:
- Your tooth is numbed and opened.
- The pulp of the tooth is removed from the main chamber through the canal to the tooth’s root. They are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Some dentists may medicate the inside of the tooth to help treat the initial infection.
- The root canals are filled with a rubber-type sealant.
- A temporary filling is added to prevent infection.
- When cleared, the dentist will remove the temporary filling and properly fill and/or crown the tooth.
What to Expect After Root Canal Therapy
In the past, root canals were extraordinarily painful procedures, but with modern pain-relieving medications and measures, root canals have become a more viable option. However, that doesn’t mean that the process isn’t complicated.
As the local anesthesia from the surgery wears off, the tooth and area around it may be painful and/or sensitive for several days after. As the pain is usually mild, over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen should be enough to relieve any discomfort. As with any major dental procedure, avoid chewing and hard and/or crunchy foods for several hours afterward. For smokers, switching to a patch or other alternative can cut down on complications and unnecessary pain.
In some cases, your dentist may prescribe narcotics if intense or extended pain is expected due to the severity of the infection or complications of surgery. Always follow the directions given with narcotics and avoid driving and operating other heavy machinery while taking prescription medicine.
Although your teeth and/or jaw may be tender for a while after the surgery, there are some symptoms that are more worrying. Contact your dentist/endodontist immediately if any of the following occur:
- visible swelling inside or outside the mouth
- severe pain or pressure beyond the first 3-4 days, especially if otc medications and narcotics don’t seem to be helping
- uneven bite
- the temporary filling/crown falls out
- any symptoms of allergic reaction
Even a fully-successful root canal can cause mild pain and/or discomfort for a few days, but this is temporary and should resolve on its own as long as your teeth are well-maintained during that time. If the pain lasts longer than three days, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.
Root canals are a favorable option in part because patients are less likely to experience dental pain than those who do not deal with the issue. You’re six times more likely to be pain-free than those who opt out of root canals, according to the American Association of Endodontists.
Dental Group of Simi Valley for Pain-Free Root Canals
Dr. Herschel Berger and Dr. Laura Jen Kin are the dentists of the Dental Group of Simi Valley. We are here for all your pre-and-post-op root canal needs. If you need a new dentist, dislike your old dentist, or have no dentist and you need a cleaning or suspect you have need of a root canal, don’t be afraid to contact Dental Group of Simi Valley.
Every patient is treated with care by our friendly staff and dentists. We specialize in making our patients comfortable throughout all procedures. Call us today to speak to our staff and set up a convenient appointment.