While an infected tooth can be effectively treated with a root canal, it's always best if you can avoid needing one in the first place. We believe in prevention as the first line of defence. Today, our endodontists in Toronto explain how preventive oral hygiene can help you avoid the need for a root canal procedure.
What is a root canal?
At the centre of every tooth is a soft area called the pulp, which contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue. The tooth's dentin and enamel protect this area - the most vital element of a tooth.
Infection can lead to a tooth's pulp becoming damaged and, ultimately, the death of the tooth.
During a root canal procedure, the pulp in a damaged tooth is removed and any residual tissues cleaned out. The tooth is then capped or sealed with a dental crown or filling. This prevents the need for a tooth extraction.
A root canal can help alleviate pain associated with inflamed or infected tooth pulp and let you continue to smile, speak and eat properly. Your chances of requiring more long-term or significant 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:
- Chipped or cracked tooth
- Serious decay
- Faulty crown
- Injury to a tooth
- A tooth with repeated dental procedures
How can I prevent the need for a root canal?
Though your endodontist will make every effort to prevent you from feeling 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.