A root canal is a dental procedure that helps repair teeth that have become infected. This procedure is common practice in the dental office; in the United States, dentists perform about 15 million root canals each year. However, that fact doesn’t make it any less scary to find out that you need one.
Will it hurt? How much will it cost? Why do you need a root canal, anyway? These questions can give many people anxiety in the days leading up to their appointment. But don’t worry! Root canals are nothing to be afraid of. In fact, you can take steps to ensure that this procedure is as easy as possible.
Today, let’s discuss what happens during a root canal, as well as how you can get ready for this important procedure.
What is a Root Canal?
All teeth are filled with soft tissue, called pulp, right in the center of the bone. This pulp helps form dentin (the material directly under your enamel) and protects the nerves in your teeth. If your tooth becomes badly damaged or decayed, however, this pulp can become infected.
When that happens, it’s time for a root canal.
During a root canal, your dentist will drill into your tooth until he reaches the cavity at the tooth’s center. Then, the dentist removes the infected nerve and pulp and cleans the area. This will prevent the infection from spreading and causing further damage to your tooth.
To complete the procedure, your dentist will either use a filling or crown to repair the surface of the tooth. Then – voila! You have a nice, new, infection-free tooth!
Tips to Help You Prepare
Getting a root canal can seem scary to many people. They worry about the pain they’ll endure during the procedure (even though dentists use numbing medicine), and this can cause a lot of undue stress.
If you are worried about getting a root canal, here are a few steps you can take to help you prepare:
It is very important that you be as healthy as possible before your root canal. If you are feeling your best, you will be more likely to have a smooth procedure and a speedy recovery! Make sure you are eating healthy foods, drinking plenty of water, and sleeping well in the days leading up to your appointment.
Take Your Medicine
In some cases, your dentist may prescribe a round of antibiotics before your root canal. This is to kill off any extra bacteria in your mouth, which could interfere with the procedure. It is very important that you take this medication – and make sure you take the full amount prescribed for the length of time your doctor advises.
Have Ice Handy
While numbing medicine can prevent pain during your root canal, you will likely experience some discomfort and swelling during your recovery. This is normal, but it’s not always fun. The best way to prepare for this is by having lots of ice and ice packs handy, as these can relieve pain and reduce swelling.
Ask Lots of Questions
The biggest reason people fear dental procedures is a lack of information. If you don’t know what to expect, it is easy to become anxious or stressed over what’s going to happen in the dentist’s chair. The best way to put those fears to rest is simply to talk with your dentist about your upcoming root canal.
Don’t be afraid to ask your dentist any question that comes to your mind. He or she will be happy to explain the procedure, discuss aftercare techniques, and generally set your mind at ease.