How Root Canals Work

If you recoil in horror at the words “root canal,” you might not have all the facts. The procedure actually helps eliminate pain, and it can protect your mouth from the spread of infection.

What A Root Canal Can Do

If you have a diseased or badly decayed tooth, a root canal can take care of your pain and save the tooth from having to be removed. A root canal will also protect your gums, jaw, and other teeth from possible infection and nerve decay.

Signs You Need A Root Canal

  • Your tooth is extra sensitive to heat and cold
  • Discoloration or darkening of the tooth
  • Severe pain in tooth with pressure or eating
  • A large, visible cavity or a blackening of the tooth
  • A foul taste or odor emanating from the tooth
  • An abscess on the gum line
  • Pus draining into your mouth
  • A cracked filling or broken tooth
  • Frequent tooth and gum pain

What Happens During A Root Canal

There are three basic steps to the procedure. First, the top of your tooth is removed, exposing the damaged interior. Second, the diseased, damaged, or infected pulp (tooth interior) is extracted and replaced with an artificial pulp imbued with antibiotics. Finally, the tooth is sealed and a crown may be placed to prevent bone loss and the spread of infection.

Is It Painful?

The procedure itself is painless, because your dentist or endodontist will first numb your tooth with a local anesthetic. A patient may experience mild to moderate pain afterward, but this can be managed with good aftercare, including:

  • Taking over the counter medications for pain
  • Avoiding sticky and hard foods
  • Avoiding chewing on the treated area
  • Brushing and flossing as normal
  • Completing an antibiotic schedule
  • As prescribed

Expert Advice Dispelling Myths

“The perception of root canals being painful began decades ago, but with modern technologies and anesthetics, root canal treatment today is no more uncomfortable than having a filling placed. In fact, a recent survey showed that patients who have experienced root canal treatment are six times more likely to describe it as ‘painless’ than patients who have not had root canal treatment.”

Source American Association of Endodontists

Get access to the next issue before it hits the stands!