Understanding the Basics of a Root Canal

Posted on: 5 March 2018


A root canal isn't typically thought of as a very pleasant experience, but this procedure is often needed to preserve a tooth, or teeth, and to ensure the health of your mouth overall. If your dentist has recommended that you get a root canal, it's good to understand some basics of this procedure so you know what to expect and know how to avoid as much discomfort as possible and also know how to care for your teeth after the procedure is over.

What is a root canal?

A root canal is a procedure done to the root or pulp of the tooth. This is the soft tissue that is under the tooths' hardened enamel surface. If this soft tissue becomes infected, diseased, or otherwise damaged, and it cannot heal on its own, it may need to be removed, and a root canal is then performed. During the procedure of a root canal, the outer enamel of the tooth is cut away or even completely removed. That soft tissue or pulp is then removed, cauterised or otherwise treated.

Typically a sealant is put over the tooth root after it's been treated, to keep it protected and help it to heal. The dentist will then fit you with a temporary cap or crown. After that soft tissue has healed, you will then be fitted with a permanent crown.

Do root canals hurt?

Before the procedure, you will typically be administered anaesthesia of some sort, to numb the tooth and the soft tissue. A root canal should then hurt no more than a standard filling. However, note that your tooth will take some time to heal after the procedure, so you might discuss the use of painkillers, topical ointments to numb the teeth, or other such treatments after your surgery in order to manage any pain you might then feel.

Do you need to avoid certain foods after a root canal?

Immediately after the root canal, and while you still have a temporary cap or crown, you may need to avoid certain foods that could damage that cap; this might include toffee, caramel, and the like. Once the permanent cap is in place and the adhesives used to cement it into position have dried, you may not need to make any changes to your diet to accommodate that artificial tooth. Your dentist can advise you on how to best care for your new cap, but don't assume that having a root canal is like having dentures and that you'll need to be careful of everything you eat after the procedure is done.

For more information about root canal therapy, contact a local professional.