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Root Canal Therapy: What to Expect

Root canals are often portrayed as one of the most painful dental procedures, so if your dentist tells you that you need root canal therapy, it’s understandable that you might be worried. But advances in dental techniques and technologies have come a long way, and root canals are no longer a procedure that patients should be afraid of. Take a look at what you should expect from your root canal therapy.

What is Root Canal Therapy?

Root canal therapy is used when a tooth is badly decayed or when an infection has reached the pulp inside a tooth’s root. Your dentist will remove the pulp from the tooth, clean out the inside of the tooth, fill the tooth with a substance called gutta-percha, and install a crown over the tooth.

The benefit of root canal therapy is that it allows you to keep your natural tooth structure. When a root canal is recommended, usually the only other option is to extract the tooth. In most cases, keeping the tooth and having a root canal is healthier for your mouth and less costly in the long run.

Will It Hurt?

Generally, by the time a tooth needs a root canal, you’re already experiencing pain in the tooth. An infection that reaches the pulp is usually painful, and badly decayed teeth are often sensitive to heat, cold, and sweet or spicy flavors. Root canal therapy actually stops the pain.

The procedure itself is usually painless. Your dentist will use a local anesthetic to thoroughly numb the area before your procedure. If you’re anxious, your dentist may also use nitrous oxide or another calming medication to help you relax during the procedure.

After the Root Canal

Once the procedure is over and your anesthesia has worn off, you may feel some mild discomfort, and your tooth may be tender for a few weeks. Your pain should be manageable with an over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen. Your dentist will probably recommend that you avoid chewing with that side of your mouth until a permanent crown can be placed.

If your dentist recommends root canal therapy, don’t worry. Schedule the procedure and follow your dentist’s instructions. Root canal therapy can relieve pain and restore the function of a damaged tooth.