What to expect after your root canal

Endodontic treatments – better known as root canals – have a bad reputation. But thanks to modern medicine, anesthetics can be applied before the procedure to eliminate a patient’s pain. Once patients get home, though, it is up to them to be aware of important practices that will help ensure the health of their teeth and a quick recovery.

According to the American Association of Endodontists, treated teeth may be sensitive for a few days after the procedure. This is particularly true for teeth that were painful prior to the treatment. Fortunately, most discomfort can be relieved with a simple over-the-counter pain medication or prescription drug. Be aware that the affected tooth may feel different for awhile; however, if you have long-lasting severe pain, it is important to schedule an appointment with your dentist for an exam.

Remember: Root canal treatments require a second appointment to fully repair the tooth with a crown or other restoration. Until you have completed this process, do not chew or bite with the untreated tooth, as it is at increased risk of fracturing. In most cases, teeth that undergo endodontic treatment are fully restored and will last as long as natural teeth. Rarely, teeth may need additional treatment if they become deeply decayed or experience another trauma. For more information about root canals, talk to a dentist on your True Dental Discounts, dental plan. He or she can evaluate your teeth and recommend the appropriate procedure to protect your oral health.

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What should I do in a dental emergency?

Although no one expects to find themselves in a situation that requires immediate dental treatment, the reality is that mouth-related emergencies are fairly common. Whether it’s a broken tooth, a nagging toothache, or a swollen jaw, you or your children may need an emergency appointment with your dentist. In the time before you get into the office, though, the American Dental Association offers suggestions about how to treat emergencies at home:

  • Broken tooth: Rinse mouth with warm water; apply a cold compress to reduce swelling.
  • Severely bitten lip or tongue: Gently clean with a cloth; apply a cold compress to reduce swelling. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, go to the emergency room right away.
  • Cracked tooth: Avoid any hot or cold beverages, as the tooth will be extremely sensitive to temperature. Do not chew on that side of the mouth. Call the dentist immediately.
  • Broken jaw: Apply a cold compress to reduce swelling. Go to the dentist or emergency room right away.
  • Knocked-out tooth: Gently rinse the tooth in water if it is dirty – do not scrub! If possible, hold the tooth in its socket and drive to the dentist immediately. Otherwise, some experts recommend keeping the tooth in milk until you arrive.
  • Toothache: Rinse mouth with warm water; gently floss to remove any pain-causing debris caught between the teeth. If desired, use an over-the-counter pain reliever; however, do NOT apply aspirin directly to the gum, as it may burn the tissue. Call your dentist if the pain does not subside.
  • Food or other objects caught between teeth: Gently use floss to remove the offending object. Never use a sharp object or cut your gums. If floss cannot solve the problem, call your dentist.

In all cases, it is best to contact a dentist in the event of a dental emergency. Most dentists, including the ones on your True Dental Discounts, dental plan, set aside time during their day to account for emergencies. When you call, explain your issue as thoroughly as possible so the dentist can be prepared for your arrival. Most of the time, the problem will be easily diagnosed, and the dentist will inform you of any needed follow-up appointments to address the issue. For instance, a nagging toothache may be caused by tooth decay that the dentist can remove and fill.