What is a root canal?
At the centre of every tooth, a soft area called the pulp contains the connective tissue, nerves and blood vessels. This is the most vital element of a tooth, and the tooth’s enamel and dentin protect it.
A tooth’s pulp can become damaged due to infection and ultimately lead to the death of the tooth.
During a root canal procedure, we remove the pulp in a damaged tooth, clean out any residual tissues and seal or cap it with a filling or dental crown. This prevents the need for an extraction.
A root canal can alleviate the pain associated with the infected or inflamed tooth pulp and allow you to continue to eat, smile and talk properly. Your chances of needing more significant or long-term tooth repair will also be reduced.
Why would I need a root canal procedure?
The pulp of a tooth can become infected for many reasons and may need to be removed. Here are some main reasons patients come to us needing root canal therapy:
- Serious decay
- Faulty crown
- A tooth with repeated dental procedures
- Injury to a tooth
- Chipped or cracked tooth
How can I prevent the need for a root canal?
Though your dentist will make every effort to ensure you don't feel pain after a root canal (or during the procedure), we haven't met anyone who loves getting them. If you take proper care of your teeth at home between dental appointments, you can prevent the need for a root canal procedure.
- Practice good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing twice daily, or as prescribed by your dentist. No matter how tired or busy you may be, don't forget this step.
- Visit your dentist for preventive care every six months, or as prescribed by your dentist.
- Avoid particularly crunchy or hard foods and candies, especially if you already have weak teeth or dental restorations. These can easily cause teeth to crack and leave your tooth vulnerable to bacteria, which can enter the root system and cause damage from within.
- Do not chew ice! This can fracture or crack teeth and allow bacteria to access and infect the pulp.
- Avoid acidic foods and drinks; they cause wear on your enamel and expose the teeth to sugar.
- Wear night guards or sports guards to protect your teeth from damage.
Seeing your dentist for regular checkups and hygiene cleanings is critical to maintaining your oral health. The dentist can also check for early indications of dental issues before they develop into larger issues. Any dental treatments can then be performed to prevent these problems from becoming worse or spreading to other teeth.