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What to Expect After a Root Canal
Thanks to modern medicine, root canal therapy is a virtually painless, simple treatment that saves the outer structure of a badly damaged tooth. The procedure is done on patients who have an injury or infection in the dental pulp. Because root canals have a reputation for being painful, many people try their best to avoid them, which is unfortunate, because a root canal can be the best way to treat and save an aching tooth. With some useful information, you can prepare for the procedure itself and learn how to manage your recovery.
A root canal, in a nutshell
To perform a root canal, a dentist numbs the patient’s tooth and drills a hole at the top of the tooth. The hole allows access to the dental pulp. The dentist then removes damaged or infected tissue from the pulp. After they clean the inner tooth, the dentist seals the tooth and sends their patient home to recover. After the patient heals, they return to the dentist to have a permanent restoration fitted over the tooth.
What to expect immediately after the procedure
The local anesthetic makes a root canal quite pain-free. It also makes the patient groggy, which is why a person should have someone to take them home from the dentist's office. A person should avoid eating while their mouth is numb to avoid biting themselves.
Will there be pain or discomfort when the anesthetic wears off?
Some swelling and discomfort is to be expected, which is why the dentist will prescribe some mild painkillers. If a patient takes their first dose of pain medication before the anesthetic wears off completely, they will only experience mild discomfort.
As they heal, the person should continue with their pain medication as directed by the dentist. A patient can also use home remedies like ice packs to complement or even replace the pain medication.
How long does it take to heal?
All the discomfort and swelling from the root canal should be gone in five to seven days after the procedure. At this time, the patient should visit the dentist to get a permanent restoration fitted over the tooth.
How well does root canal therapy work?
Root canal therapy is a treatment that can save the tooth and keep it functional for the rest of a person's life. As a rule of thumb, root canals work best for people who have healthy gums, healthy teeth and good oral hygiene habits. Anything less could cause the root canal to fail. That said, whether the treatment succeeds or fails can depend on a few other things.
What could cause a root canal to fail?
Like a building, a root canal needs a good foundation to succeed. Meaning that ideally, a patient should have no history of dental problems. They should also be fastidious with their dental hygiene and oral health. Those are the things that make a root canal succeed. Here are the things that make them fail:
- Poor oral health and/or dental hygiene
- Unusual anatomy of the tooth, like a curved canal or an extra root canal. In such cases, the dentist may fail to see and clean out these canals
- Error on the part of the dentist
- The tooth's restoration or seal starting to leak
- A vertical fracture that goes all the way to the root
Signs that a patient should seek help
A root canal can fail in the days, weeks or months following the procedure. The failure of a root canal is often painful and qualifies as a dental emergency. When a person notices the following signs, they should get help immediately:
- Severe and persistent pain that lasts for days
- Swelling of the face
- A loose restoration
- An uneven bite
Our dentist will choose the best treatment for your tooth
When you visit us for a consultation, our dentist will advise you on the best way to treat your tooth. If the dentist advises you to get a root canal, you can expect a fast, painless procedure that will keep your tooth in shape for a lifetime.
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