When is Root Canal Therapy Necessary?
Each tooth has a number of layers. The outermost shell is made of enamel, the hardest substance in the body. Underneath is the softer dentin layer, and below that is the pulp. Tooth pulp is made of tiny blood vessels and nerve tissues; it’s located in a small passageway known as a root canal.
Bacteria in your mouth can eat through the enamel and dentin layers to attack the pulp. The pain can range from mild to severe; it might only be felt while eating, or it can last throughout the night. You might also suffer from inflammation, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. Ultimately, if the decay isn’t addressed, you could lose the tooth altogether.
Root canal therapy will remove the infected pulp and other tissues. This will relieve the pain from the toothache and allow you to keep your full smile.
The Root Canal Process
First of all, we’ll need to take an X-ray to examine the root canal and look for signs of infection in the surrounding bone before moving on with the actual surgery. A local anesthetic will be used to numb the area around the tooth in question. The use of anesthetic ensures that the root canal procedure won’t cause any more discomfort than a simple filling!
A small hole will be made in the tooth, allowing Dr. Castleberry to remove the pulp along with any bacteria and related debris. The inside of the root canal is then cleaned, and afterwards the hole is sealed with a dental crown. The crown is important for holding the tooth together and preventing bacteria from entering again. Sometimes the crown can be placed right away, but in other cases you might need to come in for a second appointment. (A temporary filling will be used to fill the hole in the meantime.)
After the surgery, keep your head elevated; this will help keep the swelling and pain under control. Avoid eating until the anesthetic wears off so you don’t accidentally bite your tongue or the inside of your cheek.
Ibuprofen and other over-the-counter pain medications can help you stay comfortable during the recovery process (although in some cases you’ll receive a prescription). Until the gums heal, you’ll be at a higher risk of infection, but you can reduce bacteria levels in your mouth by gargling with warm, slightly salty water. Avoid strenuous activities for a few days, and only eat soft foods such as mashed potatoes and ice cream.