A root canal is meant to end pain, but if you don't recover carefully after the procedure, you can inadvertently cause new pain. Your dentist, and/or endodontist, should give you instructions on how to care for your tooth, which you should carefully follow to help manage pain. Knowing how to alter your eating habits to maximize healing is also a key component of the recovery process.
Eating on the Tooth
Most root canals require two separate visits. During one visit, your dentist will take out the pulp inside the tooth and make casts of the tooth for making a crown. The dentist will then have to send the casts to a lab to have a crown made. Your dentist will schedule a second visit to attach the crown to what's left of your tooth. While you are waiting for your crown, you will want to avoid chewing on the tooth in question. A dentist will fit you with a temporary crown, which is little more than a plastic shell. While it will help to protect your tooth from degradation while you are waiting for the crown, it won't hold up to chewing and grinding.
Dealing with Pain
Much of the pain that comes from a toothache comes from the inflamed tissue inside the tooth pushing against the hard enamel that surrounds it. Once the dentist extracts the infected pulp, the pressure and pain should be gone. You may experience a little bit of pain in the days following the procedure, but this pain should be manageable with over-the-counter painkillers. If you experience pain that continues and/or worsens over the weeks following your procedure, you will need to contact your dentist. It may require further work on the tooth to relieve the pain.
Is a Crown Necessary?
After you have relieved the pain of a toothache during the first step of a root canal procedure, you might be tempted to save money by foregoing the placement of a crown. A crown serves an aesthetic purpose, but it also protects what is left of your tooth from decay. Thus, in order to preserve your natural tooth and avoid future infections, you need to have a crown placed over a tooth that has received a root canal.
A root canal can help to preserve the natural roots of your teeth, which will help to keep your jaw and mouth healthy. You do, however, need to do your part by taking care of your tooth during and after the procedure to make sure your root canal is successful. For more information about root canal work, contact a dentist such as Samuel D Knight, DDS.