Category Archives: General Dentistry

what to expect after a root canal

What to Expect After a Root Canal Treatment

At the mere mention of a root canal, some of us automatically think back to the scene in Marathon Man where Dustin Hoffman’s character is tortured by a sadistic dentist.

Except in real life, dentists are actually trying to help you achieve a healthy, beautiful smile. Which means, even if a root canal sounds scary, it’s actually going to help you feel better.

Rather than letting your imagination get the better of you, keep reading this article. We’re going to share with you what to expect after a root canal.

We promise it won’t be scary.

What To Expect After A Root Canal

Your dentist has probably already explained to you that the reason you need a root canal is that your tooth is dead. But a dead tooth doesn’t always mean it needs to be extracted.

However, when you require a root canal, it means your tooth is infected. If no action is taken, the infection can spread and put you in danger of developing something worse.

If your dentist tells you to get a root canal, don’t put off the procedure. A root canal helps you keep your tooth while saving the bone around it as well.

And while a tooth may be dead, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still use it to chew foods and keep your teeth straight.

What To Ask After The Procedure

Root canals are delicate procedures. There are things that can go wrong. Make sure you understand the entire procedure and the risks it entails before you go ahead with it.

Once the procedure is over, ask your dentist how difficult he or she thought it was. Make sure they tell you how easy or difficult it was to negotiate the canals.

It’s your dentist’s obligation to tell you if anything went wrong during your root canal.

It’s also possible for instruments to break off inside the canal. If that happens, your tooth will become re-infected. You’ll need to know if that happens to protect yourself.

How To Prepare For the Ride Home

By now, you’re probably on antibiotics to help you fight off the infection. But you were also either given either local anesthesia or something stronger to knock you out.

If you were knocked out, definitely arrange for someone to drive you home. If you had local anesthesia, it still may make more sense to get a ride home just in case.

When You Can Start Chewing Again

As your dentist will explain to you, the second part of the procedure is to put a crown on the tooth to help protect it from further damage.

You’ll need to come back after the root canal procedure to have the crown fitted.

In the meantime, don’t chew or bite on the treated tooth until your dentist has put the crown on it. And don’t put off getting the crown because your root canaled tooth is now prone to fracture.

In between your root canal and the crown, continue to practice good oral hygiene. That means brushing and flossing at least twice a day.

Let’s Discuss The Pain After A Root Canal

The biggest question most people have when they’re told they need a root canal is, “do root canals hurt?”

The truth is that there isn’t always pain after root canal. Your tooth will be tender, but not everyone feels any pain.

If you do feel pain, it tends to peak between 17 and 24 hours after your procedure. To help you feel better, elevate your head while sleeping for the first two nights.

If the pain after root canal is too much to bear, take whatever pain medication your doctor recommends.

Soreness After A Root Canal

While not usual for most patients, some people do feel some tenderness and soreness after a root canal.

If you do feel soreness and tenderness, it usually happens when you’re chewing. And it can happen for up to six months, even after your crown has been placed over the tooth.

Many dentists theorize that those who feel tenderness and soreness do so because the infection was so great in the tooth that it affected the surrounding areas. Those areas include your jaw bone and it just takes some time for your body to heal itself.

Don’t Wait To Get Your Crown

Waiting to get your crown placed over your tooth is not a good idea. The longer you wait, the more likely it is your tooth will crack or fracture.

Also, one the root canal is finished, the tooth is weaker and dried out. A crown ensures your tooth can’t fracture or crack.

Many people want to wait on getting the crown because they don’t want to max out their insurance. However, that’s like playing Russian Roulette with the work you’ve already had done.

If your tooth breaks before your crown is installed, you could lose the investment you spent on having the root canal performed and then spend extra money on an implant and a crown.

Be careful with that tooth until the crown has been placed over it.

When To Get Your Next Check-Up

Your dentist will want to see you after root canal to check up on it in six months. After that, they’ll want to check on how well it’s doing every five years.

When To Stop A Root Canal

There are times when a dentist will have to stop performing the root canal because an issue has come up.

This can happen when an instrument breaks off inside your tooth.

It can also happen if the canal is calcified. This means the tooth was trying to perform its own type of root canal and due to calcification, the dentist won’t be able to get inside it to fill it.

Sometimes a dentist finds a fracture in your tooth that wasn’t visible on an x-ray. Fractures can cause seepage at the fracture line. This can lead to bone loss.

Bone loss means a loss of support for the tooth.

Lastly, if the dentist discovers what’s known as complex canal morphology or a curved root. If your dentist can negotiate to the tip of the canal, it lessens the chance they’ll be successful with your root canal.

Schedule Your Appointment

Any procedure can feel scary. But your health comes first.

If you suspect you need a root canal, contact your dentist immediately.

They’ll examine you and then discuss with you what to expect after a root canal.

If you need a dentist, we’re here to help. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

need a root canal

10 Warning Signs That You Need a Root Canal

Did you know that around 15 million root canals are performed every year? A root canal is a dental procedure intended to save a tooth that has become severely infected by removing bacteria and dead tissue.

While root canals can be painful, they are necessary to prevent the need to extract an infected or decaying tooth.

If you are concerned that you may need a root canal, it is important to act quickly. Keep an eye out for these ten signs to see if it is time to make an appointment with a dentist.

What is a Root Canal?

Before we start looking at signs and symptoms to determine if you need a root canal, let’s step back and review what the procedure is and how it works. This will help you understand the purpose of a root canal, and how it can relieve your symptoms.

Typically, a root canal becomes necessary as the result of a severe infection. This can be caused either by trauma to the tooth or by an untreated cavity. Often, the nerve in the tooth has become impacted by this point which can cause extreme pain.

During the procedure, the dentist opens up the infected tooth and cleans out all of the decaying tissue, called “pulp.” The dentist will also use antibacterial medication to kill any remaining bacteria. After the procedure, the dentist will replace the top of the tooth with a crown to prevent future infections.

1. Tooth Pain

When a tooth becomes infected, you may experience a sudden onset of extreme pain and sensitivity. This pain is often associated with a specific tooth, rather than with several teeth.

The discomfort you experience may feel like a sharp pain or like a dull ache. The pain will likely also be worse when you touch the tooth.

2. Pain When Chewing

Another key sign that you need a root canal is pain that is made worse by chewing. As with a cavity, you may experience worse pain when eating foods high in sugar.

If you only feel slight pain when you chew, this might not be a problem. Pain is more a cause for concern if it is persistent and then becomes worse when eating.

3. Sensitivity to Hot and Cold

Since tooth decay and infection can often affect the nerve at the center of the tooth, another common sign that you need a root canal is sensitivity to hot and cold temperature. Beverages like hot coffee or cold soda may cause discomfort to your tooth.

Again, pay attention to whether the discomfort is for all of your teeth or one tooth specifically. If all of your teeth are sensitive, you may simply have sensitive teeth. If a specific tooth is experiencing pain, it may be a sign of a worse problem.

4. Gum Sensitivity

Once a tooth becomes infected, the infection can travel and begin affecting other parts of the mouth. You may notice that the gum around the affected tooth is swollen, tender, or red.

5. Gum Infection

Once the gum starts experiencing symptoms from the tooth infection, it can begin to become infected itself. An infected gum may have pus-filled blisters or canker sores. It will also bleed during brushing.

6. Darkened Teeth

Discoloration can be another sign of tooth decay or infection. If a tooth starts becoming browner than the teeth surrounding it, or has a dark spot on it, this can be a sign that there is a problem.

7. Swollen Lymph Nodes

Just about any infection can cause swelling of your lymph nodes as your immune system begins responding to the infection. If you think you have an infected tooth, check the lymph nodes on your neck to see if they are large and tender.

8. You Have Chipped Tooth

In some cases, a tooth infection can be a result of a chip or a break on a tooth. This is because once a tooth is broken, it is easier for bacteria to get to the soft tissue of the tooth.

If you have a tooth that already has a chip in it, keep in mind that this tooth is at risk of infection. A dentist may be able to repair the chip, which can prevent infection and decay from taking place to begin with.

9. You Have Had a Mouth Injury

As with a tooth chip, sometimes tooth decay can be brought on by trauma to the mouth. If you have an injury to your mouth or head area, make sure to monitor your teeth as you recover for signs of a tooth decay. If you begin experiencing any of the above symptoms after having an injury to the mouth, make sure to check in with your dentist.

10. No Symptoms

In most cases, a tooth that has become infected will have noticeable symptoms. The pain associated with infected teeth can be extremely severe. This often prompts sufferers to seek out a dental appointment.

In other cases, however, you may have a tooth that becomes infected that does not show any symptoms at all. If the tooth is infected, but does not reach the nerve, you may not have pain or sensitivity.

Because of this, it is important to always go to regularly scheduled dental appointments. That’s because the only other way to catch an infected tooth if there are no symptoms is through an x-ray. By getting your dental x-rays once a year, your dentist will be able to determine if you are starting to experience tooth decay and if you are at risk of needing a root canal.

On that note, if you begin experiencing the tooth pain described above, that may indicate that your tooth has already been infected for some time. For this reason, it is important to make an appointment as soon as you start experiencing pain so it can be treated.

Think You Need a Root Canal?

If you have begun to notice one or more of these ten signs, then it is a good idea to see a dentist to have your tooth evaluated. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and get the treatment you need.