Taking Care Of A Root Canal Treated Tooth

Following root therapy, these aftercare tips will help to maintain the tooth.

Although an air of mild panic is sometimes detected when we inform a patient that they need to have a root canal treatment, the reality is that this is the only way to save a tooth where the internal soft pulp has become infected. Despite its reputation, the root canal procedure should cause no more discomfort than most other invasive procedures and will, of course, be performed using a strong local anaesthetic.

We have covered the details of root canal treatment in previous blogs such as this one but briefly, to remind patients, it involves the dentist using special tools to access the canals inside the tooth and down to the roots. The infected pulp is then removed and the canals cleaned before finally being filled with gutta percha and a crown attached to the top to provide strength and restore appearance.

How strong is a root canal treated tooth?

Without this treatment, a tooth infected in this way would need to be extracted. The root canal procedure preserves the tooth and leaves it with a reasonable amount of strength. Unfortunately, it can never be as strong as a healthy tooth and our Burton Upon Trent patients will need to observe a few simple  precautions to make sure that it stays strong for as long as possible.

Keeping the tooth clean

Above all else, it is essential to keep the newly treated tooth clean throughout its life span. Whilst it is true that decay can’t cause toothache as there are no nerves present, keeping it healthy will also help to keep it strong. If bacteria and acids are allowed to erode the enamel, the tooth is more likely to fracture. In addition to this, the gum tissue surrounding the tooth needs to be kept healthy to avoid the problem of gum disease.

The good news is that cleaning the tooth is a straightforward process and requires no more cleaning than a healthy tooth does. Brushing twice a day, with the addition of flossing, is all that should be needed for routine daily care.

Initial caution

When you have had root canal treatment it is especially important to be cautious when using it for a while. Aside from any residual soreness from the procedure, your newly treated tooth will feel different and will lack any sensation due to the loss of the nerves.

This can cause problems if you simply continue to eat as before. Because the nerves are no longer present, there are no messages being sent to the brain to tell you that you are biting on something that is too hard for the tooth to deal with. If you do this, the tooth may fracture. We advise patients of Mike Allen’s Dental Practice to eat cautiously, especially at first, and suggest omitting hard foods from your diet until you become accustomed to the tooth. Once you have, you will be able to introduce harder foods again but do make sure to use a degree of caution when biting down.

Stop smoking

This applies to all aspects of oral care and not just to root canal treated teeth. Smoking greatly increases the risk of gum disease, which could threaten the tooth, along with other infections. Stopping smoking will greatly improve the overall condition of your mouth and also greatly reduce the risk of more serious issues such as oral cancers.

Professional aftercare

Although most patients that have this treatment have a successful outcome and a tooth that lasts them for many more years; as we can see, it is not as strong as a natural tooth and therefore the potential for further damage is greater. If you experience anything that you feel is unusual once you have had this treatment, do make sure to make an appointment to see us. If we can catch the tooth before too much damage has been done, it may be possible to restore it. If you leave it too long though, or where the damage is too great, it may be necessary to extract the tooth. Should this need to be done, we are always happy to discuss the various tooth replacement options available at our Burton practice, including dentures, bridges and dental implants.

All of your teeth need regular monitoring by a dentist, whether healthy or restored. Generally, we recommend six monthly examinations with the dentist along with dental hygienist appointments twice a year. If you would like to make an appointment with us, or to find out more about root canal treatment or any other procedure, please call Mike Allen’s Dental Practice on 01283 845345.