While a root canal is an effective way to treat an infected tooth, it's always best to avoid needing one in the first place! We believe prevention is the first line of defence. Here, our Sault Ste. Marie dentists explain how preventive oral hygiene can help you avoid a root canal procedure.
What is a root canal?
The pulp, a soft region in the center of each tooth, comprises connective tissue, nerves, and blood vessels. This is the most important component of a tooth, and it is protected by the enamel and dentin.
A tooth’s pulp can become damaged due to infection and ultimately lead to the death of the tooth.
During a root canal procedure, we remove the pulp in a damaged tooth, clean out any residual tissues and seal or cap it with a filling or dental crown. This prevents the need for an extraction.
A root canal can alleviate the pain associated with an infected or inflamed tooth pulp and allow you to continue to eat, smile and talk properly. Your chances of needing more significant or 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:
- Faulty crown
- Chipped or cracked tooth
- A tooth with repeated dental procedures
- Serious decay
- Injury to a tooth
How can I prevent the need for a root canal?
Though your dentist will make every attempt to keep you pain-free after a root canal (or during the operation), we have yet to meet anybody who enjoys them. If you take proper care of your teeth at home between dental appointments, you can prevent the need for a root canal procedure.
Here are some tips to help improve your oral health and reduce the likelihood of needing a root canal:
- Brushing and flossing twice daily, or as directed by your dentist, is a smart way to maintain good dental hygiene. Don't skip this step, no matter how exhausted or busy you are.
- Avoid acidic foods and drinks; they cause wear on your enamel and expose the teeth to sugar.
- 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.
- Visit your dentist for preventive care every 6 months or as prescribed by your dentist.
- Do not chew ice! This can fracture or crack teeth and allow bacteria to access and infect the pulp.
- Wear nightguards or sports mouthguards 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.