Despite their reputation, root canals are a standard and necessary dental treatment that can save a tooth and relieve excruciating pain caused by severe infections. However, proper root canal aftercare is crucial to ensure the success of the procedure and maintain your oral health.
At Atlanta Smiles, our expert dental team refers patients needing root canals to endodontists or other dental specialists to ensure you get the best treatment. After your root canal, we can help you maintain oral health and enhance your smile with cosmetic dental procedures.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal, or endodontic therapy, is a dental procedure designed to remove infected or damaged pulp tissue from the innermost part of a tooth, known as the root canal system. The pulp contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues, and when it becomes infected, it can lead to severe pain and potentially tooth loss.
The primary goal of a root canal is to save the natural tooth and eliminate infection. During the procedure, a skilled dentist or endodontist will carefully clean, disinfect, and shape the root canals before sealing them to prevent further infection. Root canals are typically performed under local anesthesia, ensuring patients remain comfortable throughout the process.
How Long Does a Root Canal Take?
Root canals typically take around an hour but can take longer based on the tooth’s condition. Understanding the root canal process can help you understand the length of your appointment.
Before the procedure, we can diagnose your tooth damage or decay and recommend treatment. We use x-rays and an examination to determine the extent of the infection or damage to determine whether a root canal is needed.
You will schedule an appointment with a root canal specialist to perform the procedure. A root canal usually includes local anesthesia to numb the affected area and prevent pain. The dentist will ensure the area is numb before proceeding.
During the procedure, the dentist will remove the decay and pulp in the root, then clean, shape and disinfect the tooth. The dentist will then fill and seal the tooth to protect the root and add stability. Typically, the dentist covers the tooth with a temporary cap while the permanent crown is made.
How do you do Aftercare for a Root Canal?
After the root canal procedure, it is crucial to follow proper aftercare guidelines to ensure the tooth heals and remains healthy. Aftercare will also help with pain management.
- Pain management: It’s normal to experience discomfort for a few days after the procedure. Your dentist may prescribe pain medication and over-the-counter pain relievers can also help. Follow your dentist’s instructions for medication usage.
- Oral hygiene: Maintain excellent oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly. However, be gentle around the treated tooth to avoid damaging it. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
- Eating: While your tooth may feel better after the root canal, it’s still healing. Avoid chewing on the treated tooth until your dentist places the permanent crown. This minimizes the risk of fracture.
- Follow-up appointments: Attend all scheduled follow-up appointments with your dentist. These visits are essential to ensure the tooth is healing and to place the permanent crown.
- Watch for symptoms: If you notice any unusual symptoms, such as severe pain, swelling, or a recurring abscess, contact your dentist immediately. These could be signs of complications that require prompt attention.
How to Take Care of a Root Canal
Caring for a tooth that has undergone a root canal is essential for its long-term success. Follow these tips and any other specific advice your dentist provides.
- Regular dental check-ups: Continue to visit your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings. This ensures that your treated tooth remains in good condition and any potential issues are detected early.
- Maintain a healthy diet: Consume a balanced diet to ensure your body gets the nutrients it needs. Avoid excessive sugar and acidic foods and beverages, as they can contribute to tooth decay.
- Practice good oral hygiene: Brush your teeth at least twice daily and floss daily to remove plaque and prevent gum disease. Use a fluoride toothpaste to strengthen your tooth enamel.
- Protect your teeth: If you participate in contact sports or grind your teeth at night, consider wearing a mouthguard to protect your teeth from injury or damage.
- Avoid smoking: Smoking can harm your oral health and make healing take longer. Seek out help to quit smoking. By stopping, you can help maintain the health of your treated tooth and overall oral health.
How Long Does a Root Canal Last?
A root canal can last a lifetime when performed effectively. The procedure treats infections and damage within a tooth’s pulp, effectively removing the infected tissue and sealing the tooth to prevent further infection. However, the longevity of a root canal depends on various factors, including the patient’s oral hygiene, the quality of the dental work, and the specific tooth’s condition.
Maintaining excellent oral hygiene through regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups is vital to ensure the long-term success of a root canal. Neglecting oral care can lead to reinfection or damage to the treated tooth over time.
Also, the skill of the dental professional performing the procedure can impact the success of the root canal. A well-executed procedure using high-quality materials and precision techniques increases the chances of the root canal lasting.
Sometimes, a root canal-treated tooth may need additional restoration, such as a crown, to strengthen and protect it. This extra step can contribute to the tooth’s durability.
Long-Lasting Oral Health
Atlanta Smiles works with patients to ensure you get the care and results you need to restore your smile and oral health. We help our patients achieve beautiful smiles and overall well-being.
Contact us to schedule an appointment for a dental exam.