Root Canal 101: Everything You Need to Know to Prepare

Is there a root canal in your future?

From popular media to personal anecdotes, few have a positive outlook on root canals. But when you need one, there's nothing left to do for it-you need to prepare.

This oral procedure has a bad reputation, but it's not as bad as you think.

We want to help. There are a few things that you need to know before getting your root canal, as well as a few things that might put you at ease. Whether this is your first time getting any kind of restorative dental work done or you're used to the drills and needles, we've got information for you.

Keep reading to learn all about your root canal procedure before you hit the dentist's chair.

What Is a Root Canal and When Do I Need One?

So what is a root canal anyway? This is a misunderstood procedure, so it's time to learn the basics.

Root canals are widely feared, making them one of the reasons that so many people neglect going to the dentist. This doesn't make a lot of sense considering that regular dental visits are one of the best ways to prevent damage, right?

A root canal isn't complicated. It's actually a "root canal treatment," though we refer to it as a root canal for short. It's intended to remove harmful bacteria from the root canal of the tooth.

This prevents the tooth from becoming reinfected, so you don't have to remove it. Root canals aren't bad-they save your teeth!

You need a root canal when you have an infection in the tooth that has made its way to the root. Often, this is the result of a cavity or crack that wasn't treated quickly enough. Once they're too deep, a root canal or extraction becomes the only option.

If you find yourself with severe tooth pain or sensitivity that lasts for a long period of time, you may need a root canal. Talk to a dentist as soon as possible.

There's no shame in needing a root canal, and it's a standard procedure.

How Does It Work?

So now that you know what a root canal is, how does a dentist perform one?

After the dentist x-rays your tooth, they'll administer a local anesthetic to numb the area. Then they'll use a dental dam to isolate the tooth so the rest of the teeth stay safe and there's no excess saliva getting in the way.

After this, they make a small hole in the bottom of your tooth with a drill. They then use tiny instruments to clean out any infected pulp or tooth matter. Your tooth will look hollow and empty.

After a rinse, they'll fill your tooth and place a temporary filling to keep everything safe and secure.

You'll schedule a second visit to get a permanent crown placed and complete the restoration process. The crown protects your fragile tooth from future damage.

Do Root Canals Hurt?

All dental restorative procedures come with some discomfort, but the pain from root canals is often overblown.

There are several options for a patient who's nervous about the pain. The first is used nearly all of the time. Dentists inject a local anesthetic to the site, and within a few minutes, it numbs the entire area.

You'll find that the numbness can spread throughout your mouth. There's almost no chance of pain getting through, though you may feel pressure as well as a slight pinch from the injection itself. The injection will likely be the most pain that you'll feel during the entire procedure.

For those worried about pain or feel as though an injection won't be enough, sedation dentistry is a great option. Patients can use mild oral sedatives to calm them down or IV sedation to put them out for the duration of the root canal treatment.

Laughing gas (or nitrous oxide) is another popular solution. The patient won't feel the procedure, and they'll have a relaxed feeling. Many people report that procedures seem to go by faster with nitrous oxide.

How Can I Prepare?

You should get plenty of rest before your root canal. While it's possible that you're too anxious to get good sleep, try your best. You'll be in the chair for a while.

When you're over-tired, you're more prone to anxiety.

You should also eat before the procedure. Give yourself time to digest if you're going to use sedation dentistry to avoid nausea. After the procedure, you may have some soreness, and it's difficult to eat when your mouth is numb. You also risk burning or biting your gums!

It's also a good idea to bring over the counter pain medication with you. Most dentists will prescribe something to help with soreness, but it doesn't hurt to come prepared.

Finally, if you're intending on taking oral or IV sedatives, prepare to have someone come with you to drive you home. You don't need a driver if you use nitrous oxide.

What's the Recovery Period Like?

You'll experience some soreness after the numbing injection wears off. This soreness can last for several days. Use your over the counter pain medications to combat it.

You'll also manage some sensitivity to temperature and mild swelling. You should report any significant pain or swelling to your dentist.

Before the final crown is placed, avoid chewing with that tooth. It's still fragile!

>Do You Need a Root Canal?

You don't have to be afraid of root canals. They're not as scary as people make them seem, and they're essential for preserving your damaged tooth! Don't put off this essential dental treatment.

If you need a root canal (or any other type of dental work) in Rock Hill, South Carolina, we want to help! Contact us to schedule an appointment so we can get you a happy and healthy smile today!