woman preparing for a root canal at the dentist's office

Most patients can agree that hearing your dentist utter the words “root canal” can be a bit nerve-racking. If you have never undergone a root canal procedure, you likely have several questions, in addition, to fear regarding the pain that you may have to endure. Hoffman Dental Care always wants our patients to be completely comfortable before any treatment.

Read on to learn how to prepare for your first root canal to ease any fears or concerns you may currently have.

Why You Need a Root Canal To Save Your Tooth

When a tooth’s nerve tissue or pulp is damaged, it begins to break down, and bacteria starts to multiply within the pulp chamber. The bacteria and other decayed debris can cause an infection or an abscessed tooth. An abscess is a pus-filled pocket that forms at the end of the roots of the tooth. Abscesses can occur when the infection spreads past the ends of the roots of the tooth.

Additionally, an infection in the root canal of a tooth can cause:

  • Swelling that may spread to other areas of the face, neck, or head
  •  Bone loss around the tip of the root
  •  Drainage problems extending outward from the root. A hole can occur through the side of the tooth with drainage into the gums or through the cheek with drainage into the skin

What Happens During a Root Canal?

While undergoing a root canal, your dentist will work to remove any infected pulp within your tooth to reduce your risk of developing an infection.

In general, you can expect the following during your root canal procedure:

  • Your dentist will administer local anesthesia to keep you as comfortable as possible throughout the treatment. Your dentist will numb the tooth itself as well as the surrounding gum tissue. The local anesthetic can be injected into the area that will be treated to effectively numb the skin, tongue, gums, and teeth. Numbing the tooth and surrounding area allows for you not to feel any pain or discomfort during your root canal.
  • X-rays will likely be taken to help guide your dentist as they work to repair the damage to the tooth. A rubber dam may also be used to prevent contamination once the tooth has been opened. A rubber dam also helps to prevent any objects from getting into your mouth or throat during the procedure.
  • Using a drill, as well as other dental tools, a small hole is opened in the tooth and the infected pulp of the tooth is removed through this hole. Your dentist will then fill in the interior portion of the tooth. Sometimes a filling is all you will need, but other times, your dentist may recommend the placement of a dental crown.
  • If a crown is required, your dentist will make an impression of your tooth after the decay is removed. A trained technician will use that impression to form a crown that will match your tooth. It is common to have a temporary crown until your permanent one is available for placement.

Waiting For Your Crown

While waiting for a permanent crown, it is recommended that you avoid chewing and biting on the treated tooth to prevent new cracks from developing in the fragile tooth. You may experience soreness, sensitivity, or pain for a few days following treatment. Pain and discomfort will typically peak anywhere from 17-24 hours after the procedure. Your dentist can recommend the appropriate pain medications for you to take until the discomfort subsides.

It is vital to note that experiencing any of the following is not typical:

  • Swelling
  • Excessive pain
  • Persistent bleeding
  • High fever
  • Itching
  • Signs of infection
  • The development of a rash
  • Allergic reactions
  • Uneven bite

Contact your dentist right away if you experience any of these symptoms.

Don’t Put Off Getting Treatment

Once you have been informed that a root canal is necessary to save your tooth, it is recommended to have the treatment done as soon as possible. The damage could worsen and cause complications to your overall health. Root canals may seem like a frightening procedure, but Hoffman Dental Care is here to assist you in overcoming any fears or anxiety. Call us today to schedule a consultation appointment where we can discuss the root canal procedure in more detail.