Root canals

Each tooth has nerves and blood vessels running through them.  If the nerve is ever affected by a large cavity, trauma, crack, and/or fracture, then a root canal treatment may be needed to restore the tooth from infection and prevent further pain.  

Typically, a root canal treatment is done as an alternative to save the tooth from needing to otherwise be extracted.  There are several factors that may require root canals to be done, which will be assessed and diagnosed by a dentist.

Depending on the severity of infection or trauma present, this treatment may be done in one or several visits.  After the root canal is completed, a crown is usually placed to ensure that the tooth will be protected against a fracture.  

How Do I Know if I Need a Root Canal?

  • Are you experiencing severe pain or discomfort while eating?

  • Are your teeth experiencing sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures?

  • Do you have swollen gums or tooth discoloration?

  • Do you have a chipped or cracked tooth?

  • Is a reoccurring pimple on the gums causing you to fret?

If you have one or more of these symptoms, you might need a root canal. While nobody wants a root canal, knowing what symptoms to look out for can help expedite treatment and eliminate further issues.

Ideally, you should visit your dentist every six months for a routine checkup. At that time, we will be able to tell if you need a root canal or would benefit from another treatment option.

Step by Step: A Root Canal Procedure

In years past, root canal treatments would take multiple, long visits. Thanks to advances in technology and technique, most patients can have the procedure completed in a single visit. However, if more than one tooth needs treatment, or if there is a severe infection, further visits may be required.

Here is a step-by-step guide of what to expect during your root canal:

  • We will examine the tooth in question and administer a local anesthetic, if necessary. After full numbness is achieved, we place a small protective sheet (a dental dam) over the area in question to keep the area isolated and dry.

  • The dentist makes an opening in the crown of the tooth and cleans the infected pulp chamber and root canal before shaping the space for filling.

  • The root canals are filled with a biocompatible material which is then placed with adhesive cement to ensure the root canals remain fully sealed. This prevents any further risk of infection. In most cases, a temporary filling is placed to plug any gaps.

  • Finally, the crown or another restorative capsule is placed on the tooth to return it to its full function.

Because your root canal uses a local anesthetic, you will not be impaired from driving home because the effects subside within a few minutes of discontinuation.

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It is common for patients to experience one or several days of mild discomfort after a root canal. This is a normal reaction that can be effectively treated with over-the-counter pain relievers.

Eating After a Root Canal

Deciding what to eat after a root canal procedure can be challenging, because everyone reacts to the procedure differently. Individual pain thresholds are not easy to measure. As a result, navigating what you can and cannot eat after a root canal can be problematic.

Patients are urged to eat soft foods for two to three days following a root canal treatment. They are also asked to avoid foods that are too hot or cold. Also, when eating afterward, it is best to chew slowly on the side of your mouth opposite from where you were treated.

Fortunately, just because you need to eat carefully after a root canal doesn’t mean you can’t eat foods you enjoy. Here is a sample list of suggested foods to eat after a root canal.

  • Smoothies

  • Yogurt

  • Pudding

  • Milkshakes

  • Eggs

  • Soup

  • Tofu

  • Bananas

  • Applesauce

  • Pancakes

Patients recovering from a root canal are also discouraged from drinking alcohol, eating anything spicy, crunchy, or excessively chewy, like gum or taffy.