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root canal

Five words that have been known to strike fear and dread into the hearts and minds of the most courageous people:

“You need a root canal.”

root canal

What is a Root Canal?

Everyone cringes at the thought of a root canal, but exactly what are they, and why would you need one? Why are they the bar by which negative experiences are measured?

Let’s take a closer look at RCT

A root canal, also called root canal therapy or RCT for short, is a dental procedure designed to clean and restore a tooth when the soft tissue inside, known as the pulp, becomes inflamed or infected. If not for the option of a root canal, the tooth in need of treatment would have to be extracted.

There are downsides to extraction, besides the obvious cosmetic changes. These include loss of bone in the jaw and teeth drift in the surrounding area. The missing tooth will need to be replaced by a dental implant or a bridge to avoid these issues. Although an extraction may be less costly in the beginning, the cost over time is much more.

It’s important to know that there have been great strides in dentistry over the past few decades with improvements to diagnostics and instruments used for RCT. Local anesthesia is used to prevent pain during the treatment. A correctly done root canal by an experienced dentist is not more painful or difficult than any other dental procedure. The simple truth is that RCT does not cause pain; it relieves it.

What to expect during the RCT

X-rays are taken to assess the tooth before the procedure. The area surrounding the tooth is numbed with local anesthesia to avoid discomfort during the treatment. You may feel slight pressure but not pain. A dental dam is placed around the tooth to isolate the area and protect the rest of your mouth. The dentist will drill into the tooth to access the affected tissue. Once inside, the dentist will carefully clean and disinfect all the root canals. The next step is to fill the root canals with a substance known as gutta-percha. This substance replaces the infected tissue removed by the dentist. Next, the tooth is sealed with a permanent filling material. A crown often covers a tooth that has had RCT to strengthen it and ensure durability. If necessary, a post is placed inside the tooth to help support the crown.

root canal

Recovery Time

Recovery time for RCT is minimal. Patients may experience mild discomfort for a few days after the RCT, but this is usually easily managed with medication. Most people can return to their daily routine the day after RCT. Call your dentist if you experience severe pain or discomfort that lasts longer than a week. How to avoid future need for RCT

  • Brush twice a day
  • Floss daily
  • Regular dental exams and cleanings
  • Avoid hard food such as lollipops, hard candies
  • Do not chew ice
  • Wear a mouth guard at night if teeth grinding or clenching is an issue
  • Wear a mouthguard while playing sports
  • Have tooth pain assessed asap
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