A Root Canal, or endodontic treatment, is used to save a tooth when the inside is no longer healthy, or when a tooth is badly broken down. The infection or swelling inside the tooth is removed, and filling material is placed inside, allowing you to keep the tooth in your mouth without pain. Many people think a root canal sounds scary, but it is a very safe way to give your tooth a second chance, and the vast majority are pain-free. Your teeth are your body's "natural" implants, and a root canal can allow you to keep your smile and function for many more years to come.
You will be well frozen. A rubber sheet will isolate the tooth from the rest of your mouth so that you will not be exposed to any harmful materials. Expect some vibrations and cool water to keep the area clean. Dental xrays are mandatory. Typically two appointments of 45 minutes to an hour each are required, although this can vary depending on the tooth and your health. The tooth will be slightly tender for about two days after each procedure. Please let us know if you have any travel plans. If you are claustrophobic or very nervous, please talk to your dentist about sedation options.
The greatest risk is some mild discomfort for a few days following treatment. Root canals have up to a 97% success rate after 8 years, so long as they are properly restored. For most root-canal treated teeth, this means a crown is required following treatment. In rare cases, one of the instruments used to clean the tooth can get stuck inside. This can happen when the shape of the canals in the tooth are very curved or hardened. If this occurs we can still try to save the tooth using a variety of treatments. Another possibility is if a canal is too small, it may not be cleaned properly or missed. In these rare cases, some infection will remain inside the tooth which could cause the tooth to fail in the future. In very rare cases, part of the sinus or the nerve in the jaw may become irritated. Your jaw may also be quite sore from being propped open, this can last for several weeks.
Discomfort for about two days is typical following treatment. Usually over the counter pain medications are enough to help patients manage. Stick to a soft food diet during this time, avoiding foods such as raw carrots, nuts, or tough meat. If an infection was present prior to treatment, your dentist may have prescribed an antibiotic. Be sure to finish this medication completely to help the infection heal. It is also important to attend any follow-up appointments your dentist has booked for you.