Many people will need a root canal at some point in their lives; in fact, a root canal is among one of the most routine dental procedures. Still, it's good to understand not only what a root canal is and how it's done, but the common signs that could indicate the need for a root canal and the steps patients should take to reduce the risk of infection following a root canal procedure.
What is a Root Canal?
The term "root canal" is thrown around a lot in dentist's offices, but what exactly does the procedure entail? Essentially, a root canal becomes necessary when tooth decay has reached the nerve of the tooth; at this point, the nerve must be removed and the remainder of the tooth must be filled. The procedure is similar to a traditional cavity filling, but the filling goes much deeper and requires the removal of the nerve and pulp.
Signs You Need a Root Canal
Only a dentist will be able to tell you if you need a root canal procedure done, but there are some common "red flags" that could indicate the need for such a procedure. Severe tooth and mouth pain are generally an indicator that tooth decay has reached the nerve and pulp of the tooth, as is the appearance of visible dark spots on the tooth itself. In some cases, a puss-filled abscess may even be visible.
Options for Your Procedure
Many people have root canals done with no more than general anesthesia (the same numbing agent used when you have a cavity filled). However, for those who have severe anxiety over root canals, you might also want to ask your dentist about sedation dentistry options. You may be able to be sedated during your procedure to help reduce your anxiety and make the procedure more manageable for you as a patient.
The Importance of Aftercare
If you have a root canal done, make sure you follow all of your dentist's orders in regards to aftercare, as this is a must for keeping the area free of infection. This includes refraining from eating anything until the numbness in your mouth has worn off, in addition to avoiding pressure on the treated tooth until after you've returned to your dentist like Rick Chavez DDS to have your crown put in place. From there, you should take care to brush and floss the treated tooth as usual.