A root canal is an endodontic procedure that involves the removal of the living tissue inside of a tooth. This tissue, which is called the pulp, contains the dental nerves. Thus, when a root canal is performed correctly, the discomfort associated with the tooth is alleviated.
Symptoms, such as sensitivity to cold and heat, throbbing pain in a tooth, foul-smelling liquid leaking from the area around a tooth or an abscess on the gums, can indicate that you need an endodontic procedure. However, there are things you can do to lessen your chance of needing a root canal. Here are a few:
Control the bacteria in your mouth.
An overgrowth of bacteria in your mouth may lead to a root canal. Oral bacteria damage tooth enamel by releasing enamel-dissolving acid. Once the enamel has been compromised, the interior of your tooth can be accessed by bacteria that may cause an infection.
In addition to brushing and flossing regularly to rid your mouth of oral bacteria, you can do the following:
- Chew gum that contains xylitol, a natural sweetener with anti-bacterial properties.
- Drink black tea regularly. Three or four cups daily have been shown to have a negative impact on the amount of Streptococcus mutans in your mouth. S. mutans is a decay-causing oral bacterium.
- Use a fluoridated rinse. Fluoride has been shown to lessen oral bacteria numbers by making the organisms more acid-sensitive.
Don't whiten your teeth more often than prescribed.
Over-the-counter tooth-whitening kits may whiten your teeth to some degree. However, they are only safe if they are used as directed. Overuse can make your teeth increasingly sensitive. Over time, the dental sensitivity can become chronic and may only be treatable through a root canal.
Have regular checkups so cavities can be discovered and treated quickly.
If your cavity is discovered early and treated quickly, it may not reach the pulp of your tooth. Regular dental appointments allow your dentist to examine your teeth and find issues early.
If you would like to avoid a root canal, there are measures that you can take to lessen your chance of having a condition that requires endodontic treatment. Still, if you notice signs of a cavity or have extreme dental sensitivity, schedule an appointment to see a dentist (such as one from Dodson Endodontics) immediately. The dentist can determine the best course of treatment for your tooth. If a root canal is required, remember that the procedure is performed using local anesthesia and can help prevent the need for an extraction.