Posted by Dr. Julie Boudreault On 19-07-2023
The words “root canal” strike fear into the hearts of many dental patients. However, there’s really no need to be afraid! Root canals are a common, safe, and standard procedure that puts an end to your pain and discomfort.
Here, we will answer some of the most commonly asked questions about root canal therapy. Hopefully, you will feel more at ease by the end of this article!
What is a root canal?
A root canal is a dental procedure that treats infection within the pulp of your tooth. It is a safe and relatively common surgery that your dentist has performed countless times.
When we talk about the tooth’s pulp, we are referring to the nerve located in the core of the tooth. Blood and nutrients also circulate through the pulp. If the pulp sustains damage, it can become infected and inflamed. These infections are incredibly painful and can cause facial swelling, bone damage, and tooth loss.
Root canal therapy is a way to save the tooth. Your dentist removes the infected pulp and fills the tooth with a biocompatible material, thus preserving the original tooth.
Is a root canal painful?
Perhaps, the most common myth about root canals is that they are extremely painful. In modern times, this simply is not true. Thanks to technological advances and present-day anesthetics, getting a root canal feels similar to having a cavity filled. Anyone who has ever gotten a dental filling knows these are not painful!
In fact, a root canal actually marks the end of your discomfort. After all, an infected tooth is very painful. The whole point of a root canal is to remove this infection.
Do I need a root canal if my tooth doesn’t hurt?
If you need a root canal, it’s because your tooth is severely decayed, and there is an infection within the tooth’s pulp. Failing to treat this infection often results in an abscess, bone damage, and extreme pain. The infection can also spread to your other teeth. Consequently, it is imperative to proceed with the root canal even if your tooth doesn’t hurt (yet).
Waiting until you’re in pain to have a dental procedure (or visit your dentist) is a bad strategy. Most oral health conditions do not cause pain initially. The longer you wait, the worse the damage will be. You may end up needing multiple root canals instead of just one.
Will I lose my tooth?
A root canal is not a tooth extraction. The aim of root canal therapy is to remove the infection while preserving your natural tooth. So, no, you should not lose your tooth.
That being said, not all root canals are successful. Sometimes, the dentist will not be able to save your natural tooth, and you will require a tooth extraction.
Does a root canal weaken my tooth?
By removing the inner section of the tooth, its overall structure is weakened. However, dentists reinforce the tooth with dental restorations (like a dental crown or onlay) to combat this issue. Your tooth may not be as strong as it was originally, but you can still chew, talk, and use your mouth normally.
Is a root canal better than a tooth extraction?
Despite modern advancements in tooth replacements, there is no true substitution for your natural tooth. Consequently, tooth extraction should not be on the table except as a last resort. If it’s possible to save your natural tooth, you should choose to do so. Even after a root canal, your natural tooth will last a lifetime.
You can lose bone density in your jaw after having a tooth pulled. This can then lead to changes in facial structure. Plus, tooth extractions are more expensive than root canals. The recovery time is also much longer.
How long is the root canal procedure?
Most root canals are completed in a single trip to the dentist. The procedure takes between thirty minutes and two hours, depending on the severity of the infection.
However, if the infection is particularly bad, you may need to come in for two or more appointments.
Is it normal to feel pain after a root canal?
It’s normal to feel some discomfort, sensitivity, and soreness after your root canal procedure. This tenderness can last several days as the tissues surrounding the surgery site heal. Over-the-counter medication can ease any feelings of discomfort.
That being said, these uncomfortable sensations can sometimes persist for a few weeks. If you feel severe pain or pressure for more than a few days, you should contact your dentist. Additionally, monitor yourself for signs of visible swelling inside or outside the mouth. This could mean that the infection is recurring.
Should I worry about infection after the procedure?
Although we do not recommend worrying, we do suggest that you monitor your recovery. Severe pain, swelling, and fever could point to an infection.
What should I expect post-procedure?
It will take 2-4 hours for the local anaesthetic to wear off after a root canal. You shouldn’t eat anything until the numbness is entirely gone. Even then, you need to eat carefully. Choose soft foods that don’t require a lot of chewing and avoid hot food and drinks. Chew slowly.
You should continue opting for softer foods (and chewing on the opposite side of your mouth) for the first few days after your procedure. As we mentioned above, you will likely experience tenderness around the surgery site for several days.
It’s still important to keep up with your oral hygiene routine, even during your root canal recovery. Brush gently around sensitive areas. You should avoid flossing on either side of your temporary filling or crown.
What is the normal root canal recovery time?
Your mouth will gradually heal over a week or so. The permanent crown or filling is placed a few weeks after the root canal. Following that, you should be able to eat and talk freely without discomfort.
Root Canal Therapy in Milton
Choose Milltown Dental for your root canal therapy in Milton, Ontario. With more than 15 years of experience in the dental industry, our team is ready to impress you with our quality care and amazing service.
We are available to answer any questions that you may have about your upcoming root canal procedure. After all, we want you to feel comfortable when you visit Milltown Dental.