My family's dental health is important to me. Unfortunately for me, it is not as important to my little ones. Getting my kids to brush and floss on a daily basis is almost like taking on an obstacle course. I talked to my family's dentist about different methods I could try to encourage them to brush and floss on a regular basis. Some of the tricks worked, some did not. After some experimentation and talking to other parents, I was able to come up with a lot of great tips for helping kids care for their teeth. I started this blog to help other parents get creative when it comes to their kids and dental care.
Root canal treatment is generally preceded by discomfort, which probably was the reason why you sought dental care in the first place. Root canals are the removal of a tooth's pulp or nerve, and this removal is warranted when the pulp is significantly infected — with this infection being the cause of your pain. You can reasonably expect this pain to quickly subside after your root canal has been performed. So what does it mean when it doesn't?
Treating the Affected Tooth
Root canals require the affected tooth to be opened. Your dentist will drill a small cavity into the tooth to reach its pulp chamber, which is the hollow roughly in the center of each tooth, which contains its pulp. The infected pulp is extracted, leaving the tooth with an empty pulp chamber. This chamber is thoroughly irrigated before your dentist seals it with a special form of dental latex. The tooth is then closed with a temporary filling.
The initial filling a dentist uses to seal the tooth is a temporary one, and this allows the tooth to easily be unsealed. While every precaution is made to remove each and every trace of your infected dental pulp, the process isn't always as comprehensive as it needs to be. The tooth pulp isn't always predictable either. It's living tissue, and at the time of its removal, is severely inflamed. It may also have multiple roots (especially in the case of molars and premolars), which can branch off in unexpected directions, and may escape initial detection. Every effort is made to remove all your infected dental pulp, but a tiny amount could conceivably be left behind.
This possible outcome is the reason why a treated tooth receives a temporary filling after root canal treatment. In the event that a small amount of dead or dying dental pulp was left behind, a patient's discomfort is likely to continue. This is not as serious as it may sound. The fact that your dental infection hasn't subsided (due to the remaining necrotic tissues) is the most effective way to determine that your root canal may need to be redone.
If this proves to be the case, it's simple enough for your dentist to remove your temporary filling to once again access the tooth's internal structure. Remaining necrotic pulp tissues are removed before the tooth is sealed again. Once it has become evident that your root canal was a success, your tooth can receive a permanent filling, and in some cases, a dental crown too.
So if a tooth continues to be noticeably painful in the days after your root canal, speak with your dentist.