If you were told you need a root canal, please call our Silver Spring or Clinton Maryland office for a free second opinion with one of our trusted doctors.
“Root Canal” – just those two words create fear in the hearts of many people. But honestly, root canal treatments can be done quite comfortably.
What is a “root canal” anyway? First of all, your tooth is covered by the strongest substance in the human body: enamel. The enamel covering is there to protect the inside of your tooth—the dentin. The dentin is much softer than enamel. Inside the dentin, in the root of the tooth, lies the nerve. The nerve of the tooth is filled with blood vessels and nerve tissue.
When a tooth is decayed just in the enamel, there is no pain. When the decay progresses into the dentin, there can be the start of sensitivity or pain. However, when the decay reaches the nerve of the tooth it can be extremely painful!
Getting a Root Canal at Fenton Family Dental
Sometimes the doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to help clear up the painful infection in the nerve. After a few days, the nerve treatment will begin. First, the tooth will be numbed so you will be very comfortable during the procedure. Next, the infected nerve will be removed—kind of like taking the wick out of a candle. Then, the cleaned-out root canal space will be filled with a sterile filling material. The disinfected tooth is sealed to keep bacteria from getting back in. Finally, a cap or crown will be made to protect the tooth from breaking.
Root canal therapy often takes two or more appointments to complete. A temporary filling or crown is placed to protect the tooth between appointments. After each appointment, when anesthetic has been used, your lips, teeth, and tongue may be numb for several hours after the appointment. We suggest that you avoid any chewing until the numbness has completely worn off.
Between appointments, it is common (and not a problem) for a small portion of your temporary filling to wear away or break off. If the entire filling falls out, or if a temporary crown comes off, call us so that it can be replaced.
It’s also normal to experience some discomfort for several days after a root canal appointment, especially when chewing. To control discomfort, take pain medication as recommended. To further reduce pain and swelling, rinse three times a day with warm salt water (a tsp. of salt in a cup of warm water, rinse-swish-spit).
If antibiotics are prescribed, continue to take them as prescribed, even if all signs and symptoms of infection are gone. To protect the tooth, and help keep your temporary in place, avoid eating sticky foods (especially gum), hard foods, and if possible, chew only on the opposite side of your mouth. It's important to continue to brush and floss normally. However, do not floss the temporary crown as that might dislodge the temporary crown.
Usually, the last step after root canal treatment is the placement of a permanent crown on the tooth. A crown covers and protects the tooth from breaking in the future. If your bite feels uneven, if you have persistent swelling or pain, or you have any other questions or concerns, please call our office. A member of the Fenton Family Dental team will be more than happy to help!