Do you need a root canal? If this is your first experience with the dental procedure, take a look at what you need to know about root canals, recovery, and more.
What Are Root Canals?
This common dental procedure can eliminate persistent infection and potentially save a tooth. More specifically, the dental provider will remove the tooth's pulp, which is the soft center part of the tooth that contains connective tissue, blood vessels, and nerves.
Why Is This Procedure Necessary?
Your dentist may recommend this procedure for a few different reasons. These include serious decay from an infection or untreated dental carry (cavity), chipped tooth, cracked tooth, injury, or anything else that damages the pulp. Failure to repair these issues can result in chronic pain or tooth loss.
What Happens During This Procedure?
The dentist will need to numb your mouth before the procedure. This makes the root canal more comfortable. Most procedures only require a local anesthetic. But if you are anxious about this oral surgery, the dentist may recommend sedation. This allows you to sleep during the entire procedure, eliminating pain and fear. If you have pre-procedure concerns, talk to your dentist about the possibility of sedation. They can help you to understand the pros and cons of this option.
After your mouth is numb (or you're sedated), the dentist will open the tooth and remove the pulp. The dentist may add a topical antibiotic to stop an infection. After fully removing the pulp, your dental provider will seal the opening with a filling.
The dentist may use a temporary filling product immediately after the procedure. This allows your dental provider to re-evaluate the area after the procedure and look for additional infection or damage. If the tooth is free from infection and damage, the dentist will place a permanent filling or a crown on the tooth.
What Happens During Recovery?
If you were sedated during the procedure, you will need to wait until you're awake to go home. A responsible adult will need to come with you and drive you home. Patients who don't choose sedation may still want someone else to drive them home. Even though you won't feel anything during the procedure with a local anesthetic, you may have some discomfort or pain afterward, which may make driving difficult.
You may have some tenderness or discomfort for the first few days after the surgery, and your dental provider may recommend an over-the-counter or prescription pain medication to use as your mouth heals.