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How Painful is a Root Canal?

What is a root canal treatment?

There is nothing worse than toothache, and nine times out of ten, it will be for a root canal, so what is the root canal? Your tooth contains enamel ( the hard coating on the outside of your tooth), Dentine ( a soft material that supports the enamel and makes up most of the tooth, Cementum (this material covers the root surface) and dental pulp (soft centre). The dental pulp, which consists of blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue. You have a toothache because bacteria has gotten into the pulp, causing an abscess. The procedure is to remove the pulp (soft centre), clean and disinfect the root canal. A temporary filling is placed over the pulp while the tooth settles down.

How do you know if you need Root Canal Therapy?

Several conditions would require you to have root canal therapy. Some of these are:

  • Cracked tooth
  • Genetics
  • Severe tooth pain when eating
  • A pimple on your gum
  • Swollen gums
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Darkened gum

Does a Root Canal Procedure take a long time?

Initially, there will be an examination and a consultation. Treatment of a root canal can succeed in a singular visit; however, there are times that two appointments may be necessary. Sometimes infections, calcifications and the anatomy of the tooth will require more than one appointment.

The actual time of the procedure is sixty to ninety minutes.

What are the factors that would impact the lifespan of a root canal?

A root canal should last you years if not a lifetime; however, please consider the following:

  • Timing of Treatment – Complications are more common in root canal therapy that is incomplete. When a tooth's condition worsens, more complications arise, including being unable to save the tooth.
  • Location of Tooth -Front teeth only has one root canal compared to the other teeth, two to three root canals. The front "biting" teeth, which require less stress and force to the tooth. Your back teeth are "grinders" and are more complicated to treat as they have a stronger bite force while eating.
  • Age of the Patient – As we age, our teeth become more brittle.

Can I eat after a Root Canal Therapy?

The area treated will be numb from an anesthetic, so it is wise not to eat on the procedure site until the numbness disseminates. This usually takes about four hours. Once you no longer have any numbness, you can eat. However, we recommend that you avoid chewing directly on the treated tooth for at least twenty-four hours. We want to promote the healing of the tooth. We suggest that until the tooth has healed, you eat soft foods. These can include soft cheeses, soups, eggs, tinned tuna and pasta. While you have a temporary filling, avoid sticky foods that could dislodge your filling.

Are there Alternatives to a Root Canal Procedure?

Alternative therapies should be the first call when you are considering have a major dental procedure.

Some of these are:

  • Removal of the tooth - the most popular alternative. Particularly when considering replacing it with a bridge or dental implant, or dentures.
  • Natural remedies -these have been around for as long as we can remember. Diet can have a significant impact on our teeth by eating a high protein diet and eliminating sugars. 
  • Wash the root cavity with ozone gas. A study by Interventional Neuroradiology states that ozone gas penetrates the tubules of the tooth beyond the drilled area, killing bacteria and enabling the dentist to save more of the tooth. Further study is required, however, about the possibilities of the bacteria returning to the tooth.  
  • Like ozone gas, calcium hydroxide deters bacterial growth, and as this product is an alkaline substance, it will dissolve remaining dead tissue and prevent bacteria. Procedures involve removal with a file or a needle.

Is there anything else I need to know after having the procedure?

The area will be sensitive, and you may have some pain in the injection site. The recommendation is that you can take over the counter pain relievers. Continue to brush your teeth but refrain from flossing. Gargling with salty water is also recommended to reduce inflammation.

You may also be prescribed antibiotics, and we recommend you finish the course.

Call us if you are concerned, or if you have an allergic reaction such as itching or a rash, severe pain or fever or if the swelling worsens.
Please book an appointment or call us on (07) 3359 1029.

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