You’ve had a Root Canal Treatment – Now What?
Your dentist has just recommended that you need to have a root canal treatment. Before the procedure, it pays to arm yourself with information about what happens post-treatment and how you can recover faster.
What is root canal treatment?
According to the American Association of Endodontists, a root canal – or endodontic – treatment saves millions of teeth each year, being one of the preferred procedures for endodontists. In the treatment, dentists or endodontists remove the inflamed or damaged pulp inside the teeth, and then filling the gap with a rubber-like substance called gutta-percha. You need not worry that there will be changes in the teeth itself, or wonder if the teeth will function at all after the procedure. Teeth without pulp can still function even after a root canal treatment, and there are no changes in biting, sensing, and chewing using the teeth.
The treatment itself is not finished with just a trip to your endodontist since you will need to go back to have your teeth restored via filling or bonding. The teeth that have undergone the procedure will need permanent restoration to replace or repair the gap left when drilling and extracting the damaged pulp.
What can you expect after a root canal treatment?
- Pain – Contrary to popular belief, root canal treatments do not destroy the nerves of the teeth, hence, you will not feel pain. The pain before treatment is due to the inflamed pulp inside the teeth. Meanwhile, after the procedure, when the anesthetic wears off, you will feel pain that extends for a few days after the treatment. Dentists normally suggest OTC pain relievers such as ibuprofen or naproxen.
- More appointments – Although you’ve already undergone treatment, you still need to go back to your dentist, especially if the treatment only included a temporary filling for the tooth gap. In addition, a regular visit to the dentist will make sure that the treatment is working, particularly if there is deterioration in the teeth – not all root canal treatments are successful. Also, a regular visit is part of good oral hygiene.
- Complications – Although a root canal treatment has a 95% chance of being an appropriate procedure, there is still a slight chance that the tooth will only enjoy temporary restoration. There are instances that the filling is not satisfactory, or there is a new crack on the tooth after a root canal treatment. This means that there are chances that the rest of the remaining pulp will again become inflamed over time. Hence, another procedure will be needed.
Much like other dental procedures, you will feel pain after the root canal treatment. Although the pain gradually wears off, there are certain measures you can do to recover faster.
- If you can, do not eat anything right after the procedure, or at least until the numbness in the mouth wears off.
- Avoid chewing or biting on the treated tooth for at least some time after root canal treatment, or at least if you feel there is already no tenderness surrounding the treated tooth.
- Make sure that the treatment finishes with a permanent filling. If not, you will need to go back to your dentist.