Frequently Asked Questions

What is a root canal?

A root canal treatment is a dental procedure to remove inflamed or infected pulp on the inside of the tooth, which is then carefully cleaned and disinfected, and then filled and sealed. Root canal treatment is designed to eliminate bacteria from the infected root canal, prevent reinfection of the tooth and save the natural tooth.

Is a root canal painful?

Since patients are given anesthesia, a root canal isn't more painful than any other regular dental procedure, such as a filling or getting a wisdom tooth removed. However, a tooth that had root canal treatment is generally a bit sore or numb after the procedure and can even cause mild discomfort for a few days.

How do you know if you need a root canal?

Root canals are needed for a cracked tooth from injury or genetics, a deep cavity, or issues from previous fillings. Here are a few symptoms that could mean you might need a root canal:

  • Severe pain on chewing or biting.
  • Pimples on the gums.
  • A chipped or cracked tooth.
  • Lingering sensitivity to hot or cold even after the sensation has been removed.
  • Swollen or tender gums.

How long does it take to recover from a root canal?

Although you will most likely be numb for two to four hours following the procedure, most patients are able to return to school or work directly following a root canal. However, you will be advised against eating until the numbness is completely gone. As the medication used to numb your mouth during the procedure wears off, you may feel some mild soreness in your jaw from keeping your mouth open for an extended period during the procedure and some tenderness in the area for a few days as everything heals. These temporary discomforts usually respond well to over-the-counter medication, though your doctor may prescribe stronger, narcotic medication as well.

Post Treatment Care

After a root canal, it's important to take special care of the affected tooth for a few weeks or until your tooth is fully restored by your dentist. You can brush and floss as usual, but make sure to be gentle around the treated area. Avoid chewing on hard foods or using the treated tooth for biting down heavily until you've been cleared by your endodontist or dentist.

You should not chew, drink hot or cold liquids, or smoke for the first hour. Additionally, smoking can interfere with the healing process and should be avoided altogether.

Once your root canal and any follow-up appointments are completed, you’ll need to return to your dentist for a final crown to fully restore the tooth. It’s important to make this appointment as soon as your endodontist completes work on your tooth. A properly treated and restored tooth can last as long as your natural teeth.


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