If you recently visited your dentist and been told that you need a root canal, here’s everything you need to know before getting one and what to expect during the procedure.
What is a root canal?
A root canal is a dental procedure done to “preserve” a dead tooth, much like mummification – taking a dead pharaoh and stuffing him to preserve his body. But it won’t bring him back to life.
So, when your doctor tells you that you need a root canal, your tooth has gone beyond saving, is infected and slowly dying.
What are the pros and cons of a root canal?
- You can keep the tooth
- You don’t have to undergo tooth extraction
- You don’t lose the bone around the tooth
- It’s not possible to do a 100% clean root canal
- The procedure takes a few hours and can be uncomfortable to sit with your mouth open for a long time
How is a root canal performed?
Expect to sit on the dental chair with your mouth wide open the entire time, so it might be a good idea to take your favorite audiobooks or podcasts with you to keep yourself occupied.
Once the procedure begins, your dentist will take out the infected or inflamed pulp, carefully cleaning out and shaping the inside of the tooth, and then filling and sealing the space to keep out infection.
That’s not all.
Usually you’ll have to return for another visit to get a crown placed on your tooth to protect the root canal and so you can chew with it again just like the rest of your teeth.
How do dentists decide if a root canal is necessary?
To determine whether or not you will need a root canal, your dentist will first need to determine if the pulp inside your tooth is already dead or decaying or if there is still possibility for the pulp to recover.
Your dentists will usually use the following factors to determine if you need a root canal:
- Lingering pain – pain that sticks around after exposure to hot or cold temperatures
- Positional pain – pain triggered by position changes
- Spontaneous pain – pain that shoots up without specific triggers
- Presence of abscess – usually discovered after an X-ray
What questions can you ask before agreeing to get a root canal?
- How predictable is the treatment?
- What are my options?
- Will my infection spread to other teeth or to my jawbones?
- What if I don’t do the root canal?
- Is it absolutely necessary?
- Is there still a possibility the tooth can recover?
- Can I skip the root canal and do an implant instead?
If you need more information on the root canal procedure and if you should agree to get it, read this full article by Ask The Dentist.