Despite being a dental procedure that makes most people cringe, many do not even know what a root canal is. This common dental procedure is designed to save a damaged or decayed tooth, allowing you to maintain your smile. Despite its effectiveness and the fact that modern dental care makes it painless, the team at New Leaf Rohnert Park understands that no one wants a root canal. How can you avoid a root canal?
- Maintain oral health routine: brush teeth 2x/day with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, attend dental check-ups 2x/year.
- Get regular dental cleanings to remove plaque buildup and catch early signs of tooth decay.
- Use mouthguard during contact sports/grinding teeth at night to protect teeth from damage.
- Avoid sugary/acidic beverages, hard/sticky foods, and address cavities/dental pain promptly to prevent root canal.
What is a root canal?
To better understand how you can avoid a root canal, let’s take a closer look at what a root canal actually is. When plaque builds on the surface of your teeth, it slowly eats away at the enamel, moving into the dentin of the tooth. This is typical when you would have your dentist do a filling. However, if you ignore the decay and it progresses into the pulp or root of the tooth, a root canal is a procedure that can help save your tooth.
During a root canal, the dentist removes the diseased and damaged pulp of the tooth throughout the canals. Once the tissue is removed, the canals are cleaned and disinfected before being filled with a material called gutta-percha. Once filled, a permanent crown is placed on the tooth to provide additional protection and support. The root canal process allows you to maintain the root and tooth structure, which helps you maintain your smile.
Why do you need a root canal?
As we mentioned above, a root canal is necessary when the inner part of the tooth, or the pulp, is damaged or infected. While this can happen due to dental decay, it can also occur when the tooth is injured, such as a chip or crack to the tooth from a facial injury.
The pulp is the heart of your tooth. It is the area that contains all the blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue of the tooth. When the pulp becomes damaged and infected, you will likely experience dental pain and swelling in the gums surrounding the tooth.
How to avoid a root canal
The good news is that you can do things to help reduce your need for a root canal and it all starts with a quality oral health routine.
Brushing and flossing
As children, we learn that it is important to brush and floss our teeth to keep them healthy. This regular routine is one of your best defenses in terms of a root canal. You should brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. In addition, you should be flossing at least once a day to remove trapped food and bacteria from between your teeth, as this is a major cause of tooth decay.
Regular dental checkups
Attending routine dental check-ups at least twice a year allows your dentist to catch the early signs of dental decay and schedule fillings as needed. This helps ensure your teeth never reach the stage where they need a root canal.
Use a mouth guard
If you play contact sports, it is a good idea to make sure your teeth are protected. A well-fitting mouth guard helps keep your teeth safe and reduces the risk of potential cracks and chips. In addition, if you grind your teeth at night, a nightguard can protect the surface of your teeth and reduce the risk of damage to the enamel, which can result in dental decay.
Avoid sugary and acidic beverages
Beverages high in sugar or acid content, such as Coke or coffee, can weaken the enamel on your teeth, increasing your risk of dental decay. If you can’t avoid these beverages, consider using a straw to reduce contact with your teeth.
Avoid hard and sticky foods
Hard candies or overly sticky foods can cause damage to your teeth or any dental restorations, such as fillings. When this damage occurs, it opens up the tooth to decay and increases your risk of a root canal.
Use mouthwash daily
Regular use of fluoride mouthwash helps minimize your risk of tooth decay by strengthening your tooth’s enamel and helping to eliminate plaque in your mouth.
Address cavities immediately
If you see signs of a cavity, such as a small hole in the surface of your tooth, it is essential that you see your dentist for a filling as soon as possible. The longer a cavity is left untreated, the greater risk you have of bacteria entering the pulp of the tooth and requiring a root canal.
Do not ignore dental pain
No one wants to have a toothache, and while a simple pain medication may allow you to push through the pain, it is never a good idea to ignore dental pain. Addressing any dental concerns at the first sign of pain is essential as, in many cases, treating the damage at this point may allow you to save the tooth without needing a root canal.
Good oral hygiene is the best method of prevention.
With a good oral hygiene routine, a root canal is avoidable. If you have damaged teeth, however, a root canal is an effective treatment that helps you save your tooth and your smile. Good oral health and a good oral hygiene routine are essential in to help you maintain your beautiful smile.
The team at New Leaf Rohnert Park is here to help. If you have any dental concerns or need guidance when it comes to establishing a good oral hygiene routine, our team of specialists is ready to help. Contact us online or call the office today at (707) 607-8695 to schedule an appointment.