While your dentist can perform a root canal to treat an infected tooth, it's always best if you can avoid needing one in the first place! We believe prevention is the first line of defence. Here, our dentists in Toronto explain how practicing preventive oral hygiene can help you avoid a root canal procedure.
What is a root canal?
The pulp - a soft area at the centre of every tooth - contains the blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue. This is the most important element of a tooth and it's protected by the tooth's enamel and dentin.
If tooth pulp becomes infected, damage can occur and ultimately lead to the death of the tooth.
During a root canal procedure, the damaged pulp in a tooth will be removed and any residual tissues cleaned out. The tooth will then be capped or sealed with a dental crown or filling to prevent the need for an extraction.
The root canal serves to alleviate pain related to inflamed or infected tooth pulp and allows you to continue to smile, talk and chew properly. Your risk of needing more significant long-term tooth repair will also be reduced.
Why would I need a root canal procedure?
The pulp of a tooth can become infected for many reasons and may need to be removed. Here are some main reasons patients come to us needing Root Canal Therapy:
- Serious decay
- Faulty crown
- A tooth with repeated dental procedures
- Injury to a tooth
- Chipped or cracked tooth
How can I prevent the need for a root canal?
Though your dentist will make every effort to ensure you don't feel pain after a root canal (or during the procedure), we haven't met anyone who loves getting them. If you take proper care of your teeth at home between dental appointments, you can prevent the need for a root canal procedure.
- Practice good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing twice daily, or as prescribed by your dentist. No matter how tired or busy you may be, don't forget this step.
- Visit your dentist for preventive care every six months, or as prescribed by your dentist.
- Avoid particularly crunchy or hard foods and candies, especially if you already have weak teeth or dental restorations. These can easily cause teeth to crack and leave your tooth vulnerable to bacteria, which can enter the root system and cause damage from within.
- Do not chew ice! This can fracture or crack teeth and allow bacteria to access and infect the pulp.
- Avoid acidic foods and drinks; they cause wear on your enamel and expose the teeth to sugar.
- Wear night guards or sports guards to protect your teeth from damage.
Seeing your dentist for regular checkups and hygiene cleanings is critical to maintaining your oral health. The dentist can also check for early indications of dental issues before they develop into larger issues. Any dental treatments can then be performed to prevent these problems from becoming worse or spreading to other teeth.