What is a root canal?
The root canal is made up of the inner passages of a tooth that connect the pulp to the roots.
A root canal procedure is a dental treatment in which infected tooth pulp material is removed from the interior of the tooth to prevent pain and preserve the tooth.
How can I tell if I need a root canal?
An infection of the tooth pulp is often characterized by pain in the tooth.
You may notice sharp pain while you are chewing or otherwise applying pressure to the tooth. You may also experience severe sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures.
If you are experiencing pain in your tooth, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible for a diagnosis.
A Bump on the Gums
You may notice a small, pimple-like bump forming on the gums near a tooth that might need a root canal. This is called a dental cyst.
Dental cysts form around the roots of decayed or infected teeth and may form if the pulp of a tooth is infected.
Darkening of the Tooth
A tooth with infected pulp may become dark in colour, or even black, due to internal damage. If you notice that one of your teeth has become darker than the others, it may be indicative of a problem with the inner pulp.
Does a Root Canal Hurt?
A root canal procedure might sound scary, but with today’s technology, it’s typically not a whole lot more different than getting a deep filling. There’s little to no pain because your dentist will use local anesthesia to numb your tooth and gums so you’re comfortable during the procedure.
Your mouth may feel sore or tender after the root canal. Your dentist may suggest that you take over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil).
Generally, pre-treatment pain can be high, but the pain tends to drop moderately within a day of treatment and then drop substantially to minimal levels within a week.
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, try to get into the habit of following these steps:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
- Floss between your teeth at least once a day.
- Limit the amount of sugary food and refined carbohydrates you eat. These foods tend to stick to your teeth. If you eat sugary foods, try to rinse your mouth or brush your teeth shortly afterward.
- Use fluoride toothpaste or a fluoride rinse.
- See your dentist for checkups every 6 months.
- Have your teeth professionally cleaned by your dentist at least once a year.