Root canals: some people cringe when they hear the term, but it’s a commonly-performed restorative dental treatment that can save a natural tooth from discomfort and a possible extraction. Learning more about the procedure, and separating fact from fiction, will help you have peace of mind if you require root canal treatment. Our Docklands dental practice offers restorative dentistry services for patients in the greater Melbourne area; when you need high-quality dental care in the central Docklands area, contact our practice!
Understanding Root Canal Therapy
When a tooth becomes inflamed or infected, swift treatment is necessary to save the natural tooth and surrounding soft tissues. Our dentists and other team members at Docklands Dental Studio focus on providing quick root canal therapy with minimal discomfort when it counts.
When the pulp of a tooth (the soft tissues at the center of the inner tooth) faces inflammation or infection, root canal therapy alleviates the growing infection and internal pressure. Typically, patients notice the inflammation or infection through sudden, or slowly building, pain and sensitivity. The following are the most common types of discomfort felt with an infected tooth:
- Dull, consistent pain in the tooth and jaw
- Radiating pain with throbbing sensations from the tooth into the jawbone, ears, neck, or sinuses
- Sensitivity to extreme temperatures
- Intense pain when direct pressure is applied to the tooth
Myths vs. Facts
You’ve probably heard a couple myths about root canal therapy. As a commonly misunderstood treatment, the myths can lead patients to be fearful about receiving treatment. However, many myths about root canals are simply not true. Below, we’re setting the record straight on three misconceptions surrounding this procedure:
- Myth: Treatment is painful. By far the most popular myth, this idea most likely came about because patients usually feel considerable pain before receiving treatment. As outlined above, the symptoms of an infected or inflamed inner tooth are severe pain or sensitivity. After nursing discomfort for a couple weeks, it’s common for patients to become nervous or anxious before the procedure. However, our dentists always place patient comfort first. Before the procedure, a patient’s affected tooth is completely numbed. Root canal therapy actually relieves pain; patients can expect to feel a significant difference in pain levels immediately after the procedure.
- Myth: It’s a temporary fix. Root canals are not a temporary solution; they are a permanent, safe solution for infected or damaged teeth.
- Myth: It’s only needed for patients in pain. Pain is a common symptom, but the absence of it doesn’t mean a tooth isn’t infected. In its early stages, infection sometimes does not present symptoms. By taking care of the growing infection earlier rather than later, patients can actually avoid pain and discomfort.
What to Expect During Your Treatment
With a simple root canal procedure, patients are usually in and out of the examination chair in about two hours or less. If properly cared for and maintained, the treated tooth can last a lifetime. If you’re preparing for a root canal procedure, here are the basic treatment steps you can expect:
- First, your dentist numbs the affected area. Patients may have the option of additional sedation medications during the procedure as well. Sedatives can help relieve anxiety and distress for those who may be worried about the procedure. They also help time pass more quickly for more detailed root canal therapy procedures.
- A small opening is made on the crown of the inflamed or infected tooth.
- The pulp is completely removed, as well as any soft tissues in the hollow canals that extend through the roots of the tooth.
- Each hollow canal is cleaned and smoothed.
- Your dentist fills the canals and the hollow space inside the tooth with a rubbery material.
- A temporary crown may be placed after the procedure while a permanent crown is made, or the crown is placed that day. Your dentist will shape the crown to ensure a comfortable bit and natural-looking smile.
Recovery and Aftercare Tips
After your procedure, your dentist will provide care instructions for your newly restored tooth; it’s important to follow all the tips diligently to ensure a healthy healing process. In almost every case, a dental crown is placed on the affected tooth, to protect the more vulnerable tooth from pressure and harmful oral bacteria. Care instructions regarding your temporary or permanent crown will help keep your natural tooth safe from further inflammation or infection.
Tips for caring for your restored tooth:
- Choose soft foods. A temporary crown is less durable than a permanent crown. Avoid sticky, chewy, or crunchy foods that could loosen or crack the composite material often used to form temporary crowns.
- Brush and floss carefully. Maintaining a clean mouth is crucial, but use care when brushing and flossing around the restored tooth. Brush very gently near the gum line, and pull floss out from the side, rather than pulling directly up or down.
- Take any prescribed medications or over-the-counter pain relievers as needed. Though pain should diminish quickly after the procedure, sensitivity may continue for days or weeks afterward as your tooth settles. Use care to take pain-relieving medications as prescribed, and reach out to our office if you have questions about treating any sensitivity or pain.
It’s normal for your tooth to feel different for a few days after the procedure. If your bit feels “off” and the crown feels too high in your mouth, schedule an appointment to have your crown further shaped. Additionally, if you experience any of the below symptoms, contact us immediately for further treatment:
- Severe pain or discomfort lasting more than four days
- Swelling in your gums or cheeks
- A loose or unattached temporary crown
If you received a temporary crown, an additional appointment will be needed once your permanent crown is ready to be placed. After, if you don’t experience any further symptoms, your new tooth is fully restored; it can be cared for similarly to your natural teeth through daily oral hygiene care and bi-annual dental cleanings.
The Very Best Care for Your Teeth
There is no need to fear root canals; our dentists at Docklands Dental Studio have experience relieving patient discomfort through quick and efficient root canal procedures. If you are experiencing tooth pain, don’t put off a visit to your Docklands dentist; schedule an appointment with us today to have it checked out by a member of our team!
Also published on Medium.