A root canal is a procedure used to repair a damaged or infected tooth’s pulpal nerve. A root canal is recommended when a tooth develops significant decay, or when a crack or chip exposes the interior of the tooth to bacteria.
Root canal treatment is performed under local anesthesia. Patients can expect some pain and sensitivity for the first few days after treatment, but this should subside quickly. During this time, it is best to stick with soft foods for comfort and to avoid chewing the affected tooth. A dentist may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB).
The most common cause of needing a root canal is untreated tooth decay. This is why it is important to brush your teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste and floss regularly. Flossing helps to remove food particles that the toothbrush cannot reach, which can lead to cavities and later need for a root canal.
Regular dental cleanings and exams also help to prevent tooth decay and other issues that can lead to a need for a root canal. If you have a cracked or chipped tooth, it is important to see your dentist as soon as possible so they can take X-rays and inspect the damage.
Another way to prevent the need for a root canal is to make sure to always wear a mouth guard when playing sports. Mouth guards protect your teeth from getting knocked or cracked, which could lead to a need for a root Canal.