Endodontics is a specialty dentistry that saves teeth through root canal surgery. Root canal procedures affect the tissues surrounding the roots of a tooth, and the interior dental pulp; therefore, if you need a root canal, you may require the services of an endodontist. The main concern of an endodontic specialist is to relieve discomfort while saving your natural teeth.
What is a root canal?
A root canal is a dental procedure that involves the removal of the pulp, the soft center of the tooth. The pulp comprises connective tissues, blood vessels, and nerves that help the tooth grow. An endodontist administers local anesthesia before performing a root canal.
How to know if you need a root canal
If your pulp is injured or becomes infected or inflamed, you need a root canal. The tooth’s crown may remain solid even when the pulp is infected or dying. The best way to preserve the structure of your tooth is to get rid of injured pulp.
Additionally, if you notice sensitivity in your teeth, particularly to cold or hot sensations, you may require a root canal. Here are other signs you need a root canal:
- Pimples on your gums
- A chipped or cracked tooth
- Severe pain while biting or chewing
- Deep decay/darkening of the gums
- Swollen or tender gums
How long does a root canal take?
An average root canal takes approximately 30-60 minutes. However, more complex cases may require more than 90 minutes. The duration of the procedure can depend on factors like the complexity of the tooth’s root system and the severity of the infection. Incisors and canines take the least time to undergo a root canal, for example, because they only have one root, while premolars (two roots) and molars (three roots) necessitate longer surgical times.
Particularly bad infections may require more than one visit to alleviate, and the addition of the crown may add another appointment to finish the procedure.
Does a root canal hurt?
Because a root canal is a major dental procedure, you may experience slight discomfort during the surgery. However, you shouldn’t feel any pain — in fact, according to the American Association of Endodontists, patients who undergo root canals are six times more likely to describe it as painless as those who have a tooth extracted!
The endodontist will use a general anesthetic to keep your teeth and the surrounding area numb.
You may feel some additional discomfort as the anesthetic wears off; over-the-counter medication should help ease any lingering inflammation.
What to eat after a root canal
You might be wondering if and what you can eat after a root canal. The good news is that you can eat after the procedure — however, you should wait until the numbness wears off, and you’ll want to stick to softer foods like soup, yogurt, smoothies, or mashed potatoes for the first few weeks. After that, watch your comfort levels and introduce solid foods when you can.
Avoid chewing or biting with the treated teeth. Instead, use the other side of your mouth to chew until your dentition has healed.