What to Expect After Your First Root Canal
Recently, I’ve experienced some dental issues and need to undergo two root canal procedures. Root canal procedures are not as scary as you might think and can often be a painless procedure. I think it’s important for anyone to understand fully what a root canal is and this alone removes the fear factor of having one.
Root canals are an oral procedure that many people dread, due to their reputation for discomfort. If you’re like many people, you’ve found yourself in need of a root canal, and you’re not sure what to expect. Here’s what you need to know about what a root canal is, what it entails, and what you should expect after the surgery.
What’s a Root Canal, Anyway?
Root canal treatment, also known as endodontic treatment, is a common Winnipeg dental office procedure that many people need. Your teeth are made of more than one layer of tissue, each of which is distinct. Underneath the enamel, which forms the surface of the tooth, there’s a hard layer called dentin.
Under the dentin layer is the pulp. This tissue is softer and is made from living cells called odontoblasts. This pulp layer keeps the organic components of the mineralized dentin and enamel layers supplied with moisture and nutrients and produce the dentin that forms the layer above it. It’s also innervated and very sensitive. Temperature extremes, pressure extremes, and trauma to the pulp are perceived by your nervous system as pain.
And pain is probably what brought you to the dentist in the first place. Because of its sensory sensitivity, the pulp tissue acts as an “alarm system” that signals you when something’s wrong with your teeth. When you develop dental caries (cavities) from tooth decay, the dentin is exposed, and your teeth start feeling sensitive. When this process progresses down to the pulp, it becomes inflamed. This condition is known as pulpitis, and it can be quite painful.
Trauma to the pulp triggers an inflammatory response, but because the pulp is enclosed by hard dentin and enamel, it can’t expand when it’s inflamed. The pressure builds up inside the pulp chamber of the tooth, compressing nerve fibers and triggering pain that can become quite extreme. At this stage, the pulp begins to die, which can progress to “chronic pulpitis,” in which there is abscess formation.
Root canal therapy is a sequence of treatments for infected pulp. It eliminates the infection and protects your tooth from further invasion by pathogenic microbes. During the process, the infected pulp tissue will be removed entirely, then flushed out with an irrigant. Then, it’s filled with an inert material.
This is generally gutta-percha, a polymer made from natural latex from the latex tree (Palaquium gutta). Then, it’s sealed off with a crown. The root canal procedure is a process that takes place over multiple visits to a dentist or oral surgeon.
The process is done with local anesthesia to numb the area. In some cases, nitrous oxide may be used to help you relax. You’ll be awake and aware during the procedure, but you won’t feel anything due to the local anesthetic.
What Can I Expect Afterward?
After your root canal procedure, it’s normal to feel some tenderness in the area for several days after. Your jaw may also be tender and sore, as an after-effect of holding it open for an extended period of time. These symptoms are temporary and respond well to standard over-the-counter NSAIDs.
You may also be prescribed narcotic medications for pain management. If you’re taking these, you should not operate machinery or drive while under their influence, as they can make you drowsy and impair your reaction speed and cognition.
Here are some tips for taking care of your teeth after a root canal procedure:
- Don’t eat until the numbness from the local anesthetic wears off so that you don’t accidentally bite your tongue or cheek.
- Don’t chew or bite with the affected tooth until it’s been fully restored.
- Brush and floss like you normally would.
- If your tooth is filled with a temporary filling material between appointments, a thin layer of it may wear off before you see the dentist again. This is normal, but if you feel like the entire filling has come out, contact them immediately.
- Contact your endodontist if you experience visible swelling, an allergic reaction to your medication or your bite feels uneven.
After your root canal procedure, your restored tooth can last just as long as your other teeth. Afterward, all you’ll really need to do is practice good oral hygiene. Because pulpitis is usually a consequence of tooth decay, you may want to reassess your dental hygiene habits and start taking better care of your teeth.
Root canals aren’t very painful, but they’re not particularly pleasant, either. When you take great care of your teeth, you’re less likely to have to go through that process again.
Don’t forget to read How To Relieve Chronic Pain Naturally With InfraMat Pro too!
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