The main symptoms after a root canal are inflammation, pain and, sometimes, limited mouth opening. Post-endodontic pain is a common symptom that some patients present after root canal treatment. This pain is due to inflammation (the body’s natural response) to the techniques performed by the dentist while performing endodontics.
What Is A Root Canal?
A root canal is a dental treatment that consists of the removal of the dental pulp (nerve lodged in the tooth), disinfection of the tooth and subsequent sealing. The endodontic specialist aims to eliminate the cause that causes the pathological state of the tooth.
How Do You Know If You Need To Have A Root Canal?
These are some of the symptoms that may indicate that you need a root canal:
- The main symptom that indicates the need for a root canal is pain. It is the typical “toothache” that does not give in to pain medication and that intensifies at night when we lie down in bed.
- Prolonged hypersensitivity in a tooth due to contact with cold, hot or sweet food.
- Darkened tooth.
- Appearance of pus spots (fistula) on the gum.
In any case, before any suspicion, you should go to your dentist. He will be the one to issue a diagnosis and determine, after performing all the necessary tests – radiographs, vitality tests, percussion, etc. – if endodontic treatment is indicated.
Discomfort And Pain After A Root Canal
During the procedure and in the hours after, while the anesthesia lasts, it is unlikely that you will have pain. However, in the days after the pulp is removed, it is normal to feel some pain, since the adjacent anatomical structures (bone, periodontal ligament, blood vessels and nerves) suffer local inflammation as a result of the maneuvers performed by the endodontist.
It must be taken into account that the perception of pain after a root canal is not the same for all patients. Pain and inflammation are the body’s natural response to endodontic techniques, which we can summarize in three steps:
- Instrumentation: Successive introduction of files into the root canal to remove pulp tissue.
- Disinfection: Application of very high alkalinity products (NaOCl) and chelators to eliminate all microorganisms and inorganic remains.
- Obturation: It consists of filling the canals with material (gutta-percha) to completely seal the interior of the endodontic tooth and prevent microorganisms from reproducing again.
The level of inflammation is higher or lower depending on many factors, including the patient’s age, previous health condition, and duration of endodontic treatment or the existence of complications during it.
Pain after endodontics usually subsides after several days, between 3 and 7, without the need to take medication. If necessary, anti-inflammatories and pain relievers are prescribed to control pain and immediate postoperative inflammation.
If, despite taking the medication, the pain persists after 5-7 days, you should call the dental clinic and make an appointment.
Your dentist will evaluate the cause of this pain and, if deemed appropriate, will modify the medication or take other measures.
How To Prevent Root Canals
Most of the time the need for root canals is caused by:
- Existence of deep caries that reaches the dental pulp.
- Erosion or severe wear of the tooth that affects the nerve.
- Trauma or blow that causes necrosis of the tooth (loss of vitality of the pulp).
If we prevent and treat any of the three previous causes, we can avoid performing a root canal.
The best way to prevent cavities is to maintain proper dental hygiene, use fluoride toothpaste, and eat a balanced, low-sugar diet. If in spite of everything, caries appears, it must be addressed early, so that the treatment is as less invasive as possible and does not reach the nerve.
To avoid trauma, especially to the anterior teeth, custom-made mouth guards, widely used in contact sports, are very useful.
The Importance Of Dental Check-Ups
As we have already mentioned, diagnosing a cavity or tooth wear in time is essential to be able to tackle the problem before the nerve is compromised (which would force a root canal procedure) to be carried out. These injuries are usually visible with the naked eye or by probing dental grooves and fissures.
In addition, the dentist, by performing complementary tests, mainly radiological, can find cavities between tooth and tooth (interproximal), and asymptomatic infections.
These asymptomatic foci of infection go unnoticed by the patient, since they do not cause pain or cause discomfort in their daily life. However, if they are not diagnosed and a root canal is not carried out, they can lead to important pathologies, such as an infection acute or in a cyst.
Therefore, regular visits to the dentist for your endodontic treatement is the best way to prevent problems from developing and to stop them before they lead to more aggressive and more expensive dental treatments.
In dental check-ups, your dentist will examine you, inform you and recommend, depending on your particular needs, what care and treatments you should follow maintaining your dental health.