Are you in need of some dental work? If you’re having tooth pain or you have a cracked or broken tooth, visiting a dentist should be one of the first things on your to-do list.
Many people are afraid to go to the dentist, especially when it comes to procedures that they perceive as painful, like root canals.
But what happens during a root canal anyway? Is it really as bad as it sounds, and do you really need one?
We’re here to talk about it. It may or may not set your mind at ease, but you’ll be prepared for what’s to come.
Keep reading to learn 6 things that might make you feel more prepared.
1. Your Dentist Will Numb You
If you’re afraid of the pain from a root canal but also tired of the pain from your tooth, you’re in a rough spot.
You don’t have to be afraid though.
When you go in for your procedure, your dentist will likely numb you will a local anesthetic. You’ll also be offered a sedative or nitrous oxide (commonly known as “laughing gas”) to ease your pain and anxiety.
While there will most likely still be some pain after the procedure, the procedure itself will move quickly with the nitrous oxide and you may not even realize when it’s done.
The pain of the tooth will be greater than the pain of the root canal.
2. It Won’t Be Done Unless It’s Necessary
It may be comforting to know that a root canal isn’t a procedure that dentists take lightly. You won’t be getting one unless it’s necessary to save the tooth.
A dentist or endodontist will perform an x-ray before your procedure. They’ll determine where to go in for the root canal and also whether or not it’s even possible.
Sometimes the better answer is to pull the tooth. Other times the better choice is drilling and filling the tooth to clear out the infected tissue. A dentist will take this on a case-by-case basis but you won’t be given an unnecessary procedure.
A root canal is a necessary procedure that you’ll feel better about later. Learn about what happens if you don’t get a root canal and you’ll be racing to the dentist.
3. Your Tooth Will Be Protected
When you get a root canal, it isn’t just about getting rid of the bad tissue. Instead, you’ll also be protecting and disinfecting that tooth.
Once the tooth is cleared out, you’ll get it filled with a body-safe and biocompatible material. It’s then cemented into place.
This filling (and a future cap, more on that next) will protect your tooth from future decay. This is a protective procedure.
4. You May Need to Come Back
Once the root canal is done, you may never want to go back to the dentist’s office, especially if you have that overwhelming fear of dentists.
Prepare yourself, though. You’ll need a followup appointment.
This isn’t just a time for the dentist to talk to you about any pain or discomfort you’re feeling after the procedure, though they may do that to determine whether or not they were successful.
They’re also going to strengthen or replace your latex filling with something more durable. You may receive a crown or a cap to keep everything secure. A crown will also protect your tooth from chipping and keep it sturdy and strong so you can eat normally.
Some dentists may do everything on the same day, but be prepared for a potential return visit.
5. Your New Tooth Is Just As Good As The Old One
Actually, your new tooth is better than the old one. It’s not painful or full of infected tissue!
Your new tooth should be just as healthy and strong as your other teeth. It will also require the same amount of care and general oral hygiene. The tooth is more protected than a natural tooth, but you can still get cracks or even cavities.
If you don’t want to return to the dentist (beyond regular checkups, which help), keep your teeth as clean and healthy as possible.
6. You May Experience Side Effects
When you leave the dentist’s office they may supply you with strong over-the-counter painkillers or even a small supply of heavy painkillers. Immediately after the procedure, you may feel like you don’t need these, but don’t write them off.
As your anesthetic wears off, you’ll start to feel a soreness in the area of the root canal. It may feel like it’s “inside” the tooth or around the gums. This is normal.
If you experience any abnormal side-effects, though, you need to visit your dentist as soon as possible.
If the pain that you’re experiencing is severe, or there’s a lot of pressure around or inside the tooth, this is a bad sign. Give it a few days to ensure that it isn’t just the soreness from the procedure but then contact a dentist.
If you experience swelling in your gums, this may also be a reason to see your dentist.
Some people have allergies to the materials used in root canals or the medications used for numbing. If you experience hives or difficulty breathing, this should be a cause for alarm.
Finally, if your filling loosens or falls out, you need to see your dentist. It may not have been cemented securely.
What Happens During a Root Canal? Nothing to Stress About!
If you’re worried about what happens during a root canal, don’t be. The procedure is safe and you’ll be in less pain afterward. You’ll get a pain-free tooth and the whole process will fly by if you choose to use nitrous oxide (we recommend it).
Don’t live in pain. A root canal can help.
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