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When do I need a root canal?

Posted by Dr. Lamas on May 24 2019, 07:06 AM

When do I need a root canal?

Sometimes we’re not as careful as we should when eating. Sometimes we have bad habits like opening a bottle’s cap with our bare teeth. Sometimes we just keep moving the dentist appointment to fill a cavity “for next Monday” for three months straight.


Either way, now we’re having a really bad tooth pain and we want to get rid of it as soon as possible. We ask our friends and family for tips and advices and the suggestion of a root canal comes up often.


But do YOU really need it? How do you know it’s the correct procedure for you?

The short answer is: You can’t know until a dentist evaluates you.


But how does the dentist know that you need a root canal?


The usual reasons for a root canal are the following:


In short, any damage to the tooth’s pulp can be reason to need a root canal. But since you need to see the inside of your tooth to know if there’s pulp damage, it’s advised to visit your dentist and have an X-Ray of the affected area to determine what’s causing your pain and how it can be solved.


A cavity has reached the tooth’s pulp. Cavities are made by, putting it simply, tooth-eating bacteria. They chomp their way down to the tooth’s pulp, and they’re starting to infect the area. A root canal will be needed to remove the tooth’s nerve and stop the pain.


A cavity is about to reach the tooth’s pulp.  Sometimes you don’t feel pain, but you’re sensitive. The good news is that you don’t have an infection because the cavity hasn’t completely reached the nerve, but it’s close enough to cause sensitivity and filling the cavity might cause more harm than good in terms of pain. The dentist has to take into account the extent and depth of the cavity, and might consider that it’s better for you to have a root canal done rather than risking more sensitivity and ending up needing a root canal later once the pain worsens.

A deep crack or chip in the tooth.   Cracks and chips can be caused by external forces like biting hard candy or having an accident with a football. If these injuries go deep enough into the teeth’s pulp, they might cause pain and become a reason to do a root canal.


Does a Root Canal hurt?

During the procedure you will be under local anesthesia, so you won’t feel pain during the treatment. Maybe, once the procedure is over and the anesthesia wears out, there will be some pain that can be calmed with painkillers. Your dentist will give you a prescription if necessary.

How long does a Root Canal take? How many appointments will I need?

This depends on the amount of roots that your tooth has. Anterior or frontal teeth have only one root, and the procedure takes around 40 minutes to 1 hour. Posterior or molar teeth have two or three roots, so the procedure takes between one and one and half hour

Most root canals take only one appointment to be done. If the tooth is infected, your dentist will place medication inside your tooth to deal with the infection and ask you to return one or two weeks later to finish the treatment. In some cases where the infection is too strong, your dentist will use the second appointment to renew the medication inside your tooth and ask you to return for a third and hopefully final appointment. 

Do I have to use antibiotics after a Root Canal?

It’s not always necessary to take antibiotics, only in the case that the treated tooth is infected. 

For how long will it hurt after the Root Canal?

There might not be any pain after the treatment, or there might be pain for 4 to 5 days after the treatment. Painkillers will help to relieve it.

Can I drive and/or work after a Root Canal?

Yes, you can. Only the left or right side of your mouth will be numb, depending on the treated tooth's location.  If you're getting two or more teeth done in a single appointment and they're in opposite sides of your mouth, then your dentist will have to numb your whole mouth. This will not affect your motor skills or your mental efficiency,  the sensation (or lack thereof) might be a bit distracting, but you'll be perfectly fine. The numbness will go away in 30 minutes to one hour. 


Here at Dental Studio we can help you to know if you need a root canal done, so feel free to contact us and set an appointment!


Have you had a root canal done? How did you feel? Let us know in the comments below!

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