In the past, teeth with infected nerves and roots would generally have to be removed. These days, however, our Manitoba dentists can perform a root canal procedure to save a tooth with minimal time and discomfort.
What is a root canal?
A root canal (also known as endodontic treatment) is a safe and effective dental procedure during which a dentist removes damaged pulp from the interior of the tooth, preventing the need for a tooth extraction.
Once a tooth has emerged through the gums, the nerve's only function is to provide the sensation of hot or cold temperatures, so the absence of the nerve will not affect the function of the tooth, and it's better to remove it.
What happens during a root canal procedure?
A root canal procedure usually involves one to three visits to your dental office, depending on how severe the damage is.
First, the dentist removes the affected tissue and cleans the interior of the tooth. The tooth is then sealed and filled with a composite material. If your tooth had extensive decay, your dentist may place a dental crown to strengthen and protect the tooth.
Why do I need a root canal?
When a tooth has a deep cavity or is cracked, bacteria can enter the interior of the tooth and cause infection. If left untreated, an abscess may form that results in pain and swelling. Eventually, this infection could cause damage to your jawbone and negatively affect your overall health.
In these cases, the solution is often to remove the infected tooth nerve with a root canal.
How do I know if I need a root canal?
Patients generally need a root canal when they experience a severe toothache, swelling in the gums, or tooth sensitivity, especially to hot and cold. These symptoms will normally subside when the damaged tissue is removed.
Only your dentist can determine if a root canal will be an appropriate treatment. If you experience any of these symptoms, be sure to contact your dentist for a professional diagnosis and treatment options.
Do root canals hurt?
Since patients are given anesthesia, a root canal isn’t more painful than other dental procedures, like getting a filling or having a wisdom tooth removed.
You may experience some soreness or numbness after the procedure followed by some mild discomfort for a few days. But your dentist can help with pain management, and in most cases, any post-procedure pain can be treated quickly and comfortably.
How to prevent a root canal
To prevent the need for a root canal, it’s important to follow the same dental hygiene habits that help prevent cavities and other tooth problems. To keep your teeth healthy, you should follow these guidelines:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day
- Floss between each tooth at least once a day
- Use fluoride toothpaste or a fluoride rinse
- Visit your dentist regularly for a hygiene cleaning and dental exam
- Have your teeth professionally cleaned by your dentist at least once per year
- Try to limit the amount of sugary food and refined carbohydrates you eat as these foods can increase the amount of plaque on your teeth