370 E South Temple, Ste 325 Salt Lake City, UT 84111

Few patients look forward to a root canal, and many dread them, but a lot of that fear is actually unnecessary. Root canals are an important procedure that can be extremely beneficial to your oral health, and when done by an experienced dentist, relatively painless. Modern dentistry has succeeded at making them much less painful than in the past. 

Here’s what to expect if you need a root canal.

Why You Need a Root Canal

When the pulp (the soft, inner part of the tooth) becomes infected or inflamed, a root canal is a necessary treatment needed to remove it. If left untreated, you may develop an abscess or experience severe pain. 

The infection or inflammation of your tooth’s pulp is usually caused by severe damage or decay. An injury to the face, cracks in your teeth, or cavities that have gone untreated for too long could bring about that damage. 

Common Symptoms

You may need a root canal if you have:

  • Severe tooth pain 
  • Acute tooth sensitivity
  • Swollen, painful, or darkened gums
  • Chipped teeth
  • Deep decay
  • No feeling in your tooth at all

If you think you might need a root canal, schedule an appointment with a dentist right away.

Root Canal Procedure

During a root canal, the pulp and nerve are removed from the tooth. Then the tooth is sanitized, filled, and sealed off. 

Here’s a step-by-step look at what to expect during a root canal procedure:

  1. X-rays are taken of your tooth.
  2. Local anesthetic is given to numb the tooth.
  3. A small rubber device called a dental dam is placed around the tooth to keep it clean and dry.
  4. The dentist will drill into your tooth. You will not feel any pain because of the anesthetic. 
  5. The infected pulp and nerve tissue will be removed, and the (now empty) insides of the tooth will be cleaned and disinfected. 
  6. The tooth will be filled with sealer paste and rubber compound, and then a filling will be done on top to complete the procedure. 
    1. Sometimes your dentist may choose to wait a few days before filling your tooth. This may be because of an infection or other concern. If this is the case, the dentist will usually fill the tooth with a temporary filling to prevent anything from getting inside. 

Recovery After a Root Canal

Immediately following your root canal, your mouth will still be numb because of the anesthetic you received during treatment. This is perfectly normal and mostly harmless. However, avoid eating until the numbness has gone away to avoid injuring yourself. 

Here is what you can expect during your recovery from a root canal

  • You may experience some swelling or sensitivity after the anesthetic wears off. This is perfectly normal. You can use an ice pack to reduce inflammation or take over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen. 
  • If your dentist has given you a temporary filling, be extremely careful with your tooth and eat soft foods to avoid any damage. Avoid chewing with the tooth.
  • Once you have received the permanent sealing on your tooth, you can go back to eating normal foods, but you still might want to give your mouth a rest by eating softer things for a few days. 
  • Make sure to take good care of your tooth after a root canal. Brush and floss regularly and continue to meet regularly with your dentist. 

Note that swelling and sensitivity should go away after a few days. Contact your dentist if the pain persists or if inflammation worsens. 

Contact Us Today

If you need a root canal, or any other dental treatment, visit South Temple Dental for quality dental care. We love creating beautiful smiles every day.