Do you have an awful pain and throbbing in your jaw that keeps you up at night? Is it hard to bite into an apple or an ice cream cone without wincing? You may think it’s a cavity forming, but it could be more than that. The first step is to visit a dentist trained in restorative dentistry in Berkeley CA, as you may need a root canal to fix the problem. Only a dentist can tell you that, though.

Check out these FAQs about root canals that can put your mind at ease and answer any questions you may have about this procedure. Plus, it can easily be done right in the dentist’s office!

Q: What’s a Root Canal?

A: A root canal, an endodontic treatment designed to repair and save a severely damaged or infected tooth rather than remove it, can save a severely injured, cracked, or decayed tooth when the pulp inside becomes infected or inflamed. If left untreated, it can result in pain as well as a tooth abscess (infection) requiring a root canal.

Q: How Can You Avoid a Root Canal in the First Place?

A: Avoiding tooth decay can be achieved by establishing a regular oral hygiene regimen every day. Brush and floss every morning and night, stay away from high-sugar foods, and limit drinking of acidic beverages such as soda and fruit juices. Visit the dentist twice a year to keep up with your regular cleanings so the dentist can be on the lookout for signs of problems. Such problems, when caught early on, can avoid the need for invasive procedures such as root canals and crowns. Wear a custom-made mouth guard to protect your teeth against the risk of injury if you play sports.

Q: What Are Some Signs You May Need a Root Canal?

A: There are a number of things that can signal the need for a root canal, including:

  • Persistent pain
  • Injury to tooth due to impact
  • Chipped or cracked tooth
  • Swollen gums
  • Discoloration of the tooth
  • Sensitivity to heat or cold
  • Prolonged sensitivity
  • Deep decay

Q: What Happens if You Ignore a Damaged or Infected Tooth?

A: When symptoms are ignored and you fail to see a dentist right away, the infected tooth may become so damaged that the only option is to take it out. Beyond just the tooth, though, there are widespread health problems that can result. For example, the infection could spread to your neck, head, and other parts of your body, with bacteria traveling toward the heart, and then settling in the heart lining, valve, or blood vessel. This is called Bacterial Endocarditis.

Q: What Can I Expect From the Root Canal Process?

A: First, you will get an X-ray to identify the size and shape of the root. Your dentist will see if there are signs that infection has spread to the surrounding bone. Prior to the procedure, a local anesthetic will be applied to numb your tooth and surrounding area so you don’t feel pain. Your dentist may place a dental dam (a small rubber sheet) around the affected tooth so the area stays clean and dry.

Using special tools, your dentist will then make a small opening in your tooth to remove the diseased pulp, bacteria, and decayed tissue, then clean the area to remove debris.

The dentist then fills the root canal with material to seal them. You will get a temporary filling or dental crown to seal the hole when severe damage has occurred. At a later appointment, you will get a permanent filling or crown.

Q: What is the Recovery Process?

A: You can expect your mouth to be numb for two to four hours after the procedure, but feel free to go back to work or school afterwards. Don’t eat hard foods right after the root canal, and if you have received a temporary crown, don’t chew on that side (hard or soft) until getting your permanent crown.

If you have mild pain or sensitivity after your root canal, use over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, to ease swelling and discomfort. If you start to bleed or the swelling doesn’t go down, call your dentist immediately.

Make Your Appointment With Ashby Dental in Elmwood Today

If you think you need a root canal, book your appointment with us today at (510) 549-0133. Our dentists can determine the root cause of your pain and discomfort, and suggest a solution. For your convenience, we are located at 2507 Ashby Ave. in Berkeley, CA and our hours are Mon – Thu 8am to 4pm and Fridays 8am to 1pm.