Before you proceed with any important dental procedure, you'll want to be sure you're well informed of the process, why you may need a certain procedure, and what to expect in terms of the recovery period. Root canals are a very common dental procedure and there are approximately 15 million root canals performed by dentists every year. At Kneib Dentistry, we want to provide our patients with peace of mind, ensuring that they know what to expect every time they walk into our office for dental care. Our guide to root canals will give you a better understanding of what a root canal is, why you may need one, and the recovery period.
What Is a Root Canal?
A root canal is a procedure that focuses on a primary area of your tooth: the pulp. The dental pulp is composed of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues that are vital to the health and growth of your teeth. Your dental pulp also helps spur the creation of dentin, which supports the structure of your tooth and strengthens your enamel.
If your tooth is damaged, cracked, or chipped, your dental pulp may become exposed, which can lead to a painful infection. If this is the case, you may need to have a root canal procedure performed in order to save your tooth. You might need a root canal if you're experiencing any of the following, too:
- Sensitivity to hot or cold food and beverages
- Pimples on your gums
- Swollen or tender gums or jaw
- Darkening of the gums (a sign of decay)
- Extreme and prolonged pain or tooth sensitivity
During a root canal, your dentist will remove the inflamed or infected tissue (dental pulp), carefully clean and shape the root canal space inside your tooth where the pulp was housed, and then fill this space before sealing everything. In some cases, the remaining tooth structure may be small enough that a post will need to be inserted to maintain your tooth's strength. The main purpose of a root canal is to save your natural tooth in order to prevent you from needing any artificial dental appliances installed.
Many patients may find themselves put off by root canal procedures – after all, aren't they supposed to be painful? The answer may surprise you.
Do Root Canals Hurt?
Oftentimes, root canals are portrayed as painful procedures that make people afraid of going to the dentist. This simply isn't the case! Patients who have had root canals performed relate the procedure as being as painless as a dental filling, so there's nothing to be worried about.
Your dentist will give you a local anesthetic to numb the area in question at the beginning of your root canal. It's common for patients to feel comfortable the entire time they're having the procedure done and some report feeling relief afterward.
How Long Does a Root Canal Take?
Root canals take one or two appointments to complete. Root canal appointments may take around 30 minutes to complete, however, other variables may require it to take 90 minutes or longer. Once you have an appointment scheduled at Kneib Dentistry, we will make sure you are well-informed of your procedure and the time it will take to complete. There will always be open communication between you and the team at Kneib Dentistry to answer any of your questions and concerns.
Root Canal Recovery Process
Understanding your recovery process is an essential part of preparing for your root canal. Root canals are a simple procedure and typically entail a relatively short recovery time. Following your root canal procedure, your mouth and area in question will be numb for a few hours.
The first few days following the root canal, it's normal for your mouth and gums to feel sensitive. This is able to be managed through over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen.
If your tooth hasn't been placed with a dental crown, avoid chewing on that side of your mouth and resort to easy-to-eat, soft foods if necessary. Keeping the area clean by using an antibacterial mouthwash, as well as routinely brushing and flossing, will ensure that no additional dental work is needed in the future.
Rest Easy During Dental Restorations with Kneib Dentistry
Dental care doesn't have to leave you unsure of what to expect. At Kneib Dentistry, providing patient comfort is important to us because we know it's important to you. Dr. Kneib has decades of experience handling our patient's every dental need.