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What is a Root Canal?

A dental procedure that is used to remove diseased tissue from the interior of a tooth is called root canal therapy. The channels beneath the pulp chamber in the inner part of the tooth are cleaned and removed. The roots are cleaned with flexible nickel titanium files. Dental pulp is composed of nerve tissue, blood vessels and lymph tissue. It is considered to be a vital part of the tooth. If the pulp is damaged by bacteria or dental caries, root canal therapy is often required to eliminate the infection and prevent tooth loss. The procedure involves disinfecting the tooth and removing the infected tissues. Once the tooth is properly cleansed they are filled with materials created to prevent the redevelopment of infection.

When is a Root Canal Necessary?

A tooth can become cracked and inflamed due to trauma or a failed dental filling. Bacteria can leak into healthy tissue and cause infection. While it is possible to be asymptomatic when a root canal is necessary, the following are common signs that a root canal may be necessary:

  • Severe pain when chewing or application of pressure to the affected area
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures even after the source of the hot or cold is removed
  • Discolouration or darkening of the tooth
  • Swelling and tenderness at the gum line
  • Recurring pimple on the gums (often called a “gum boil”)

What Should I Expect after a Root Canal?

Some soreness and tenderness is expected while the tissues in and around the treated tooth are healing. These symptoms are usually not permanent and can be managed through the use of common over-the-counter pain medications. If you have been prescribed pain medication, it is important to follow instructions for taking these medications. These medications may make you drowsy, therefore you should be cautious when operating machinery or driving a car.

How to Care for Your Tooth after a Root Canal

It is advised that you don’t eat until the anesthetic wears off. This will help you prevent biting your tongue or the inside of your cheek. Do not bite or chew on the affected tooth until it has been properly treated and restored. Be sure to continue brushing and flossing as normal. If you have received temporary filling material, it is typical for a thin layer to wear off in between appointments. If you believe that the entire temporary filling has come out or if you are experiencing and of the following symptoms, please contact us immediately.

  • Excessive swelling in or around your mouth
  • Hives, rash or itching
  • Original symptoms return
  • Difficulty with your bite or chewing

Having root canal therapy is one step to returning your tooth to optimum function. In order to ensure successful treatment, a proper final restoration is necessary. It may be necessary to schedule a separate appointment for this filling. If your tooth had been infected for a long period of time, two appointments may be necessary to adequately remove all the bacteria within and around the tooth. After receiving root canal therapy and tooth restoration, your tooth can last as long as your natural teeth. But typically a crown is recommended to protect the tooth from the higher tooth fracture risk after the root canal treatment. Of course, good oral hygiene that includes, brushing and flossing as well as regular professional checkups and cleanings are necessary to protect the tooth from decay and gum disease.

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