Whether you’ve got a root canal treatment coming up or are curious about what this procedure involves, check out our guide to each stage of the root canal process, so you can be clued up on what to expect.
If you have a tooth that’s become infected or badly decayed, your dentist may recommend root canal therapy. While this treatment has traditionally been seen as a scary prospect, there’s nothing to fear about having a root canal!
We’ve put together a handy guide on what to expect before, during and after your root canal procedure, so you can go ahead with confidence and look forward to getting your oral health back on track.
Before your root canal treatment: Why you might need a root canal
Your tooth’s root canal is the space inside your tooth that contains a substance called dental pulp, as well as the nerve of the tooth.
If you’ve been advised by your dentist that you require root canal treatment, this means you have an infected or badly decayed tooth. Root canal therapy is designed to remove the infected tissue, eliminate bacteria, and preserve the affected tooth.
People with teeth that have become infected or decayed may experience the following symptoms:
- Red, swollen or bleeding gums
- Increased sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
- Pus around the tooth
- Throbbing pain in the mouth or jaw
- Pain or sensitivity when chewing
- Darkening of the affected tooth
- A small bump (like a pimple) on the gums
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your local National Dental Care practice so your dentist can identify the cause. If your tooth is decayed or infected, this can lead to more serious dental problems when left untreated, as well as resulting in increased pain and discomfort for you.
During your root canal treatment: The root canal procedure
Your root canal treatment will usually begin with an x-ray to determine the size and shape of the tooth root and to look for signs that the infection may have spread to the surrounding bone. This may be done at a previous appointment or immediately before your root canal procedure.
Your root canal surgery can be performed under a local anaesthetic, which will numb the tooth and surrounding area so you don’t feel any pain. The dentist will create a small opening in your infected tooth and then remove the diseased pulp, decayed tissue, and any bacteria from the tooth. Once this is done, the area will be thoroughly cleaned to remove any debris.
After this step, your dentist will fill the root canals with a sealant. To complete the root canal process, your dentist may recommend a dental crown to protect the tooth from further damage - if so, a temporary restoration will be placed over the top of the tooth until the crown can be fitted.
After your root canal treatment: Recovering from root canal surgery
Although you may experience some numbness from the anaesthetic for a few hours after your root canal procedure, most people will return to their normal activities the same day. You should avoid chewing hard foods immediately after your root canal until it no longer feels sensitive.
You can take over-the-counter pain medication to manage any discomfort after your root canal, but be sure to contact your dentist if you experience pain beyond what seems normal. It’s also very important to maintain good oral hygiene habits after a root canal.
Once you’ve had a root canal treatment, you’ll need to visit your dentist regularly and have subsequent x-rays to confirm the tooth root is healthy and there are no lingering infections around the tooth.
For back teeth, it is usually recommended that you get a crown after your root canal, to minimise the chances of you breaking the tooth.
As long as you practice good oral hygiene and keep up with your regular dental visits, your root canal can last for many years.
To make an appointment at your local practice, find your nearest National Dental Care practice and make a booking.