Root canal therapy – are there three scarier words in the entire universe of dental terms? While a root canal usually strikes fear into many patients, the procedure is actually more common – and much safer – than you might think.
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Root canal therapy is just one of the many dental services offered by dentists. Since there’s so much confusion and bad information surrounding root canals, we thought we’d cover some key aspects of this often misunderstood procedure.
Here are a few things you need to know about root canals:
What is a root canal?
Simply put, it’s a procedure to preserve an infected tooth. Root canals don’t replace infected teeth – they instead keep a decayed tooth in place to keep other teeth aligned. A root canal basically replaces an infected tooth, which avoids tooth extraction. They happen a lot – according to the American Association of Endodontist (AAE), more than 15 million are performed on an annual basis!
Overview of treatment
Patients are given a local anesthesia to numb pain. The procedure is basically this: the tooth’s pulp is removed (since it’s already infected), the tooth is filled with a durable material, and your dentists or endodontist carefully seals the tooth to prevent infection. It sounds complicated and difficult, but in the hands of dental and endodontic professionals, it’s very successful – more than 97% of root canals don’t require any follow-up dental work, and remain intact for years afterwards!
Benefits of a root canal
Besides the high success rate (see above), a root canal keeps your teeth alignment intact. When a tooth is removed, teeth can shift. This results in a misaligned bite, pain, and other issues. With a root canal, severe toothaches are gone. Once it’s been determined you need a root canal, don’t expect to wait too long for the procedure. The longer you wait, there’s a greater chance your tooth will cause a serious infection.
But what about after the root canal?
- Diet – until your root canal receives a crown, you shouldn’t eat any solid foods. Make sure to brush your teeth regularly and practice good dental care habits – even after the root canal gets a crown.
- Pain management – most root canals are pain-free. Any pain associated with root canal therapy subsides substantially within 24 hours. If you experience any discomfort, consult with your dentist or doctor. The important thing to remember: the vast majority of root canal patients experience no pain at all!
- Questions – to learn more about how a dentist can help, go to a dentist’s office now.