When your tooth experiences damage, becomes diseased, has dead pulp, but is still healthy enough to exist in your mouth, a root canal can help save it. The pulp is the innermost layer of your teeth, which allows for healthy blood flow to each tooth. But if pulp becomes damaged or a deep cavity or crack in your tooth exposes it, bacteria can flood into the region and lead to an infection, swelling, or even the death of your pulp’s vital tissue.
When a tooth is simply beyond saving, it needs to be extracted from your mouth. This level of damage could be caused by a severe fracture of a cavity so large that it weakens your tooth to the point of structural damage, such as a tooth with a crack that extends below the gum line.
The procedure of a root canal is relatively straightforward. After numbing the area, your dentist will create an opening in the damaged tooth, then remove the dead or diseased pulp. The pulp chamber will be thoroughly cleaned to ensure there are no leftover bacteria, then filled with gutta percha, a dental material used to replicate pulp. Depending on the procedure, a crown may be used to cap your tooth and help restore its appearance and strength. Usually, multiple visits will be required to complete the procedure, but the timetable varies based on the situation.
During aftercare, it’s normal if you feel pain for a few days. This can vary from a dull ache to a more sharp or acute pain, but the discomfort should be manageable by using an over-the-counter painkiller. If the pain is too strong to deal with, or disappears then returns, contact your dentist for a checkup or for additional tips on dealing with the pain.
If the tooth has to be extracted, your dentist will numb the area and use a lever-like appliance known as an elevator to loosen the tooth in its socket. Using forceps, your dentist will then extract the tooth. It’s natural to feel some pressure as this happens, but nothing too uncomfortable.
During aftercare, you’ll bite a piece of gauze for 45 minutes to clot your natural blood flow. You can expect light bleeding for approximately 24 hours as well as some facial swelling, but ice packs can help reduce inflammation. When you first get back to eating, stick to soft, cool foods that won’t irritate the extraction site. Typically, the full healing process can take about two weeks.
If you think you need a root canal or an extraction, schedule an appointment at New York City Endodontics. We’ll help you make the appropriate decision for you and your mouth.