If you have been notified by your dentist that you need a root canal, you may have some pressing questions about the process. Root canals are a fairly common procedure and can even be almost pain-free with the benefits of modern, medical technology. In an attempt to preempt any confusion or panic, here are some answers to common questions about root canals.
What is a root canal?
A root canal is a dental procedure in which the dentist removes the infected areas of a tooth. These usually include the diseased tissue and the infected pulp. The root canals – hollow fissures that run from the tip of the tooth to the root – are also involved in the process.
The dentist concentrates mostly on the tooth’s pulp – the pulpy center comprised of blood vessels and nerve endings. Pulp flows through the roots of your tooth in a narrow channel or canal, and when this pulp becomes infected or damaged, it hurts.
In most cases, a dentist will perform the root canal surgery but in more complicated cases, a root canal specialist will be necessary to perform the procedure.
Common causes include cracks, deep cavities, trauma to the tooth, or repeated treatments that have proved ineffective. In the simplest sense, root canal therapy is when the dentist locates an infection or damage to the pulp, cleans it, disinfects it, fills it, and then seals the tooth to prevent further infection.
How do I know if I need a root canal?
There are some symptoms or warning signs that will tell you that you need to schedule a visit to your dentist. These include:
Tooth pain: Pain is the body’s way of letting your brain know something isn’t right, and it is the best indicator of a damaged or infected tooth. Maybe it comes and goes throughout the day, and it may heighten when you bite down on something. It also may emanate from your gums. These are all signs that you should visit your dentist, and quickly.
Hot and cold: You may notice that the affected tooth and the surrounding area in the gums are extra sensitive to hot and cold, and even when the source has been removed, these areas can ache for a while.
Discoloration: Your gums may be red and angry-looking, or perhaps purple and bruised.
Swelling: If your gums are palpably bigger and tender to the touch, you will know it. Run your tongue over your gums. Do they feel weird? Maybe they are hotter than normal, almost feverish. Maybe they are just bigger. Whatever it is, one thing is clear – they are not happy gums.
Ill feeling: With a severe toothache, you’ll tend to feel ill all over. This overall feeling of illness may also be due to your inability to eat, drink, sleep or live comfortably. The result is the same – you will be in pain until you head to your dentist.
If you have experienced any of these symptoms in recent months, you should head to your dentist for a full checkup. Your dentist will be the one to tell you whether or not you need a root canal.
What happens during a root canal?
During a root canal, your dentist will numb your tooth and the affected area, create an access hole in your tooth, and then clean out all the infected material. To finish, your dentist will fill the canals and the cleaned areas of the tooth with a material, fill the access hole, and cap the tooth to avoid any infection.
Are there painless root canals?
These are not your parents’ root canals. These days, medical technology and state-of-the-art equipment offer a lot of options that didn’t exist 20 years ago. Through these advancements, dentists can make their patients feel little to nothing during a root canal. And if you think about it, if your face hurts enough, the root canal (while it may be unpleasant) should largely be a relief.
If you have experienced some of the unpleasant symptoms associated with a tooth infection, consult your dentist. Professionals like those at Star White Dental will guide you to a happy and healthy mouth.
It’s not uncommon for teenagers to have their wisdom teeth removed as they come in, especially if they’re getting impacted or crowding other teeth and causing misalignment issues. However, there are also plenty of adults who elect to have their wisdom teeth removed later on.
For some there’s no need to remove them if they grow in fine and have no impact on other teeth. That said, the fact that they’re in the back of your mouth can make them hard to clean, and this can lead to issues like cavities. At some point, it may be in your best interest to have them removed.
Whether you go under general anesthesia for this process or the extractions are simple enough that your wisdom teeth can be pulled like normal teeth with little more than Novocain, you’re going to experience some down time following the procedure. It generally takes at least two weeks for your mouth to fully heal, and for the first 2-4 days following extraction, you’re going to have some swelling.
How can you reduce swelling and speed the healing process after wisdom tooth removal? There are several steps you can take to facilitate recovery and keep pain and swelling to a minimum.
Rest and Recover
This is very important – you need to plan for at least a couple of days to rest following wisdom tooth extraction. It’s best to avoid any strenuous activity to give yourself adequate time to heal. First and foremost, you need to make sure the bleeding subsides and blood clots form so the sockets can start to heal.
If you’re up and at ‘em the same day or the day after, you could reopen wounds and increase bleeding, healing time, and risk infection. Spending a couple of days on the couch, packing your mouth with gauze and taking other precautions is the best way to ensure proper healing and minimize swelling and potential discomfort.
After any surgery, pain symptoms are to be expected. With proper treatment, you can avoid the onset of pain. Anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen will help to reduce swelling and alleviate discomfort, but depending on your threshold for pain, you may also want to take the painkillers your dentist prescribes.
Often, you can take them simultaneously or trade off to maximize benefits. Some patients find that they don’t need painkillers at all, that ibuprofen does the trick. You’ll just want to make sure you start taking it before the anesthesia completely wears off and continue taking it at regular intervals thereafter. In other words, get ahead of the pain if you want to control it.
Swelling is a normal bodily response to trauma, such as tooth removal, but you can help to control it in a variety of ways. One of the best options is using ice packs, which will not only address the swelling, but also help to numb the area if you’re experiencing some pain.
You never want to put ice directly on your skin, so wrap your ice pack in a thin towel. You can apply it for about 20 minutes at a time if it’s comfortable, and then remove it for about 20 minutes before reapplying. This could help immensely during the first couple of days after surgery.
Stick to Soft Foods
The last thing you want to do is stab your healing sockets with something hard or sticky, so it’s best to eat only soft foods in the days following removal of wisdom teeth. Cold, soft foods like ice cream, Jell-O, pudding, and yogurt can be especially soothing during the first couple of days, after which you can start adding mashed potatoes, pasta, eggs, and other soft foods that are more filling and nourishing.
You might think sipping milkshakes is a good idea, but you need to avoid using straws for at least a few days. The suction of using a straw could actually damage blood clots in the sockets, cause them to come loose, and set off bleeding again.
Cleaning can be tough for several days following oral surgery, so you’ll want to follow your dentist’s instructions to a tee. For the first few days you’ll use saltwater rinses, after which you can probably begin brushing, as long as you’re careful to avoid the sockets. Your dentist may provide you with a small syringe that you can use to gently flush the area around the sockets to remove food and bacteria until they are fully healed.
When someone in good overall health loses a tooth due to gum disease, an acute injury, or an oral infection, dental implants are fantastic and safe long-term solutions. They do not require the upkeep that dentures require and provide a patient with results that are aesthetically pleasing. Because of their high-success rate (98%), and their popularity in the world of dentistry, dental implants are becoming one of the most common procedures that those with tooth loss seek.
What Are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is the closest that a person can get to having a natural tooth. Meant to mimic the root of a tooth, a dental implant uses a screw to act as a tooth’s “root.” This screw is inserted into the jawbone (much like a tooth’s root connects to the jawbone). Then, once the bone has fused with the screw, a crown (an artificial and custom-made tooth) is applied to the implant.
Many factors contribute to whether someone is eligible for a dental implant. Overall health, for example, is crucial as smokers, excessive consumers of alcohol, those with periodontal disease, or those with diabetes usually do not respond well to dental implants.
Another cause of concern for many is bone density. In order for the dental implant to fuse with a patient’s jawbone, an adequate level of bone density is needed to ensure a successful outcome. Fortunately, there is an option for those who lack the bone density required for dental implants: bone grafting.
Bone Grafting: What Is It?
Bone grafting is a procedure that is meant for those who do not have enough bone for a dental implant. Usually, deterioration of bone occurs after a traumatic injury or when a tooth has been left to rot and decay. Bone crafts create a solid and secure base for dental implants.
Bone Grafting: The Procedure
Dental implants rarely occur in one procedure; they usually take place over a certain number of stages. First, if you have a damaged tooth that needs to be removed, it will be extracted. Then, your periodontal surgeon will prepare your jawbone for a surgical procedure. This is usually when bone grafting will take place.
In order to provide a future implant with a solid base, bone will be taken from either another part of the jaw, from another part of the body, from a cadaver, or from an animal source (if you have ethical reasons for preferring one over the other, these preferences should be discussed with your surgeon ahead of time). The latter two options have proven to be just as successful as the former two and help the patient to avoid a second surgical site.
Once the bone has been obtained, this piece of bone will then be placed into the patient’s jawbone. Then, the waiting begins. It will take several months for the new bone to grow enough to support an implant. Once the jawbone has healed and the bone has sufficiently grown, the implant will be placed into the jaw.
Again, this may require several months of healing time. After the area is fully healed, an extension of the implant is placed into the jaw; this extension is what the crown will attach to. Once the extension insertion area heals, a crown is then placed on top of the implant.
Bone Grafting: After
Bone grafts are time consuming. However, they provide those without the bone density required for an implant to receive an implant. Healing is usually accompanied by usual discomfort like gum swelling, bruising, or bleeding and patients are instructed to eat only soft foods while their mouths heal.
Because bone grafting requires an additional surgical step, it is important that you seek out a specialist that is board certified in periodontology and dental implant surgery to ensure that you experience optimal results and no complications.
If you have been told that you are not eligible for a dental implant because you lack the bone required for a successful implant, consider seeking out an oral surgeon that has experience in bone grafting. Because it is a complicated procedure, many dentists may not offer it in-house; however, this does not necessarily mean that your lack of bone density diminishes your candidacy for a dental implant.