Root Canal

Root canal is a treatment to repair and save a badly damaged or infected tooth instead of removing it. The term "root canal" comes from cleaning of the canals inside a tooth's root. When a tooth becomes infected it is usually related to the nerves in the root of the tooth. The infected nerves need to be removed. If left untreated an infection can turn into an abscess, which is a much more serious problem that includes bone loss in the jaw.

To start the root canal procedure, you have dental X-rays to check the extent of damage. You also receive a local anesthetic to control pain, which may be more severe if the tooth is abscessed. The dentist will then drill down into the tooth to create an opening into the canal. They will then be able to remove infected tissue and clean the canal. After the infection has been removed, the space if filled with a sealant. The final stage of the root canal is restoring your tooth. Because the tooth typically has a large filling or is weakened from extensive decay, it needs to be protected from future damage and returned to normal function. This is usually done by placing a crown.

After your root canal, your restored tooth with the new crown should work normally and look cosmetically pleasing. If you follow good dental and oral hygiene, your restored tooth could last a lifetime. The first few days after your root canal, the tooth may be sensitive. Over-the-counter pain medications can help. If pain or pressure lasts more than a few days, be sure to talk to your dentist or endodontist.

Dr. Wang's Tips

Helpful tips for your post root canal recovery:

  • During the root canal procedure, eat only with one side of your mouth and avoid using your treated teeth until the filling has been placed and the whole process is finished.
  • After the procedure, refrain from eating and drinking for a few hours.
  • A manageable amount of pain and minor sensitivity is normal after the procedure but if you canít tolerate it, analgesics like ibuprofen and naproxen should be taken right away or even an ice pack will suffice. The pain should not prevent you from doing your normal activities. Otherwise, consult your dentist.
  • If the pain still persist after a week or two, itís no longer normal. Still, the wisest thing to do is to visit or call your dentist as this may indicate a problem with the filling.
  • Aside from painkillers, your dentist may also recommend anti-bacterial treatment to avoid future tooth problems. You may or may not take it depending on your current tooth condition.
  • Regularly brush and floss your teeth. Proper care and maintenance of oral hygiene is still best in order to prevent tooth decay and other tooth related problems.