Six Things You Need To Know About Root Canals

Say the words ‘root canals’, and many people start to feel nervous. This type of dental treatment can seem daunting; however, it can take place with relative ease. Here are six things you need to know about root canals and their treatment before booking your appointment. This will normally be with an endodontist (someone who specialises in the inside of the teeth) or a general root canal dentist.

What Is A Root Canal Treatment?

Root canals involve the treatment of infection deep down in the centre of the tooth. This can be caused by a deep cavity, loose filling or crack allowing bacteria to get inside the root. The infected or inflamed pulp and nerve inside the root of the tooth are removed under anaesthetic. The gap is then filled and sealed to prevent further infection from getting in. A crown is normally added on top to protect the treated tooth. You may be prescribed an antibiotic to help keep further infections at bay. Done properly, and after the right preparation, root canals do not need to be painful or uncomfortable. If you look after your repaired tooth carefully, it can last for a long time afterwards without any further damage.

How Should You Prepare For Root Canals?

Some advice includes avoiding drinking alcohol or smoking for 24 hours before your appointment. Make sure you eat beforehand though, unless told otherwise by your dentist. This is because the numbness caused by the anaesthetic will make it much harder to bite and chew until it wears off. You might like to take an anti-inflammatory painkiller, such as ibuprofen, a few hours beforehand to help reduce any swelling. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep beforehand, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about anything you are unsure of. If you are very nervous, it could be helpful to take someone along with you for moral support.

What Will Happen During The Appointment?

You will be welcomed into the room and made to feel comfortable. The dentist will explain the procedure and answer any questions you may have about root canals. When you are ready, the area being treated will be made numb with an anaesthetic. Then, the dentist will work on the tooth, removing the infected part of the root and then packing, sealing and covering it with a crown. These procedures are sometimes split over two separate appointments. You will be given time to recover afterwards, and provided with after-care advice. This can include avoiding very ‘chewy’ foods for a while afterwards, being careful touching the affected area and resuming your normal oral hygiene routines.

How Much Do Root Canals Cost?

Exact prices will vary, so you should check with your dental surgery. There are often arrangements in place to allow flexible payment options, or plans to spread the costs. Root canals tend to be quite a bit cheaper than other, more invasive options such as extraction, implants and bridges. So, it is well worth acting fast to repair a tooth with a root canal wherever possible, to avoid more expensive – and more difficult – treatments later on.

When Should You Have An Extraction Instead Of A Root Canal?

Root canals work very well when you want and are able to save the tooth from dying, even for a few years. They can be far less invasive than having a tooth extracted, and recovery time is normally much shorter. However, if the tooth’s structure is seriously damaged, or there is a crack extending below the gum line, extraction is pretty much inevitable. This is due to the fact that more serious damage will leave the tooth unstable and unable to be used without causing further harm. Ask your dentist for their advice about which option to choose if you are unsure.

How Long Do Root Canals Last After Being Completed?

Teeth that have had a root canal treatment can last for anything between 10 and 20 years, depending on how well you look after them after your appointment. Teeth that have fillings and crowns added on top of root canals can last a lot closer to 20 years. Eventually, the repaired tooth will become more brittle and susceptible to further damage. It is worth asking your dentist for advice on how to look after your root canals. Find out what further options there are for treatment or cosmetic procedures, should the tooth need to be removed further down the line.