That awful pain and throbbing in your jaw just won’t go away. You can’t eat ice cream and you can’t bite into an apple. The discomfort keeps you up at night. Is it a cavity? Is it something a bit more than that? Any time you have pain in your mouth or jaw, it’s important to see a dentist trained in restorative dentistry in Piedmont CA. You may need a root canal to fix what’s wrong, but only a dentist can tell you that.

Here are some root canal FAQs that may help ease your mind and answer your questions about this procedure that can be easily done right in the dentist’s office.

Q: What is a Root Canal?

A: A root canal is an endodontic treatment designed to repair and save a severely damaged or infected tooth rather than remove it. Put another way, this treatment can save a severely injured, cracked, or decayed tooth when the pulp inside becomes infected or inflamed. If not treated quickly, this can lead to pain as well as a tooth abscess (infection) that requires a root canal.

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

A: There are many things that can clue you into the need for a root canal, including:

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

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

A: If you ignore your symptoms and fail to see a dentist in a timely manner, the infected tooth may become so damaged that the only option is to remove it. But there are even more widespread health problems that can result. The infection could spread to your neck, head, and other parts of your body. Bacteria may even travel toward the heart, and then settle in the heart lining, valve, or blood vessel, resulting in something called Bacterial Endocarditis.

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

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

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

The root canal is then filled with material to seal them. You will get a temporary filling or dental crown that will seal the hole in cases of severe damage. You will get a permanent filling or crown at a later appointment.

Q: What Does the Recovery Process Look Like?

A: Expect to be numb for two to four hours after the procedure, but you can safely go back to work or school afterwards. Stay away from hard foods right after the root canal. If you got a temporary crown, don’t chew on that side (hard or soft) until getting your permanent crown.

You may experience some mild pain or sensitivity after your root canal, but you can use over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, to ease swelling and discomfort. If the swelling doesn’t go away or you experience bleeding, call your dentist immediately.

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

A: There are things you can do to avoid tooth decay by establishing a regular oral hygiene regimen every day. Stay away from foods that are high in sugar and limit drinking of acidic beverages such as soda and fruit juices. Brush and floss every morning and night. Continue to visit the dentist twice a year to keep up with your regular cleanings. This will also give the dentist a chance to look for signs of problems that, when caught early on, can avoid the need for invasive procedures such as root canals and crowns. If you play sports, wear a custom-made mouth guard to protect your teeth against the risk of injury.

Book an Appointment With Piedmont Oaks Dental

If you think you may need a root canal, or just want to get to the bottom of your persistent mouth and jaw pain, book your appointment with us today at (510) 654-6523. For your convenience, we are located at 1345 Grand Ave. Suite 103 in Piedmont, CA and our hours are Mon – Thu 8am to 5pm and Fridays 8am to 1pm.