Root Canal Therapy: Most Frequently Asked Questions About RCT

Are you planning to undergo root canal therapy or has your dentist suggested you one? If yes, I am sure you too are anxious about the upcoming treatment and want to know what’s in store, like our other patients.

That’s the reason why we have compiled below a list of most frequently asked questions about root canal treatment that were asked by our patients in the clinic and also online. Going through this list of questions and answers will surely help you get rid of all that unnecessary fear and anxiety and calm your nerves.

Let’s get started.

Most Frequently Asked Questions And Our Answers About Root Canal Treatment

Some of the questions below may sound repetitive because they are and we wanted to keep these questions in a form as they originally were.

Is The Root Canal Procedure Painful?

A root canal treatment is always carried out under anesthesia. So no, it shouldn’t pain any more than the pain you experience during a normal dental filling. However, the amount of pain one experiences may also depend on the individual pain threshold, the amount of infection already present, the tooth and root structure and also the efficiency of the doctor.

After the procedure, however, you may experience a slight to moderate pain which is common and which can be managed with the medication which your dentist prescribed.

How Long Does it Take to Recover from a Root Canal Procedure?

If the root canal treatment is done properly you may have mild to moderate pain for a day or two. This pain usually goes away on its own. If the pain doesn’t subside even after 3 days and if the pain is severe, go visit your dentist. Also if there are any associated swellings, you need to rush to your dentist.

Does The Tooth Really Die After A Root Canal Procedure?

Root canal treatment is the procedure which involves the removal of the inflamed and infected pulp tissue from within the root canals and the tooth followed by cleaning and refilling it with synthetic fillers.

The ‘pulp’ is the tissue which contains the nerve and the blood supply to the tooth. So once you remove the pulp, the tooth loses its nerve and blood supply and becomes non-vital. And this phenomenon is termed as the ‘death of the tooth’.

The tooth is still physically present in the mouth. However, due to the loss of the blood and nerve supply, it may become brittle and that’s the reason why you are asked to go for a crown after RCT.

root canal therapy

She May Need a Root Canal Therapy

Can a Root Canal be Done in One Day Or Single Sitting?

In the earlier day, Root canal therapy was carried out using manual RCT instruments, which is in practice even today, in most parts of the world. However, with the invent of modern rotary instruments and technologies, it is possible to perform root canal therapy even in a single sitting, provided there is no persistent infection. If there is an infection, it may need more than a sitting even with modern equipment.

How Do You Know You Need a Root Canal Treatment?

Here are some of the signs and symptoms that indicate you may be needing a root canal treatment.

  • Consistent pain in the tooth
  • Tooth pain which increases on sleeping or lying down
  • Pain in teeth while chewing food or simply applying pressure
  • Severe sensitivity in teeth on consuming hot and/or cold beverages and food items
  • Discoloration of a tooth
  • Swelling near the gum area of a tooth
  • A sinus opening (that appears as a pimple) on the gum area near a tooth

Is Root Canal Painful After Treatment?

As mentioned earlier, it is normal to have mild pain for one to two days after RCT. But if the pain is severe and if the pain doesn’t subside even after 2 to 3 days something isn’t normal and you need to see your dentist.

Are You Put to Sleep for a Root Canal Therapy Session?

Well, that depends! Root canal therapy is normally carried out under local anesthesia. However, in some special cases, unconscious sedation methods may be used to make the patient sleep during the treatment. This is specially done in cases of anxious patients, patients with special needs or when performing RCT on multiple teeth at once.

Can I Drive Back After a Root Canal Session?

You can drive after a session of root canal therapy. However, if you were given sedation during the procedure, driving should be avoided. In any case, it’s better to bring someone with you to drive you back, just to be safe.

What Happens If You Don’t Get a Root Canal Treatment Done?

If your dentist has suggested you to get a root canal therapy, it is better to go forward with the procedure. Root canals therapies are advised, only when there is irreversible damage to the inner nerve or the pulp of the tooth and there is associated infection with it.

So if you postpone or avoid getting the RCT, there is a very high chance of infection spreading into the surrounding tissues causing some serious complications which may even be fatal.

If you don’t want to get RCT done in any case, at least go for the extraction of the tooth. By doing that you can get rid of the infection, sadly you will also lose your tooth 🙁

Can A Dead Tooth Nerve Heal It Self?

We have come across many articles and videos on the internet which claim to give you cures, tips, and tricks that can heal tooth cavities and reverse tooth decay. There are also some scammy looking videos, that claim to reverse tooth infection without any medical intervention.

We suggest you to not fall for this trap. Without undergoing antibiotic therapy and a dentist’s intervention it is almost impossible to reverse the infection.

And NO. The dead tooth nerve or the nonvital pulp doesn’t spring back to life! So there is no way a dead tooth nerve will heal itself. It needs to be get rid of.

Does a Root Canal Therapy Kill a Tooth?

As we clean and remove the pulp from the tooth during a root canal procedure, you may consider the procedure as killing the tooth in a non-scientific sense. As mentioned earlier, the pulp is the region where the main source of nerve and blood supply to the tooth reside.

So removing the pulp makes the tooth nonvital. This, however, doesn’t remove the physical structure of the tooth and you may even hardly notice.

Root Canal Procedure

Root Canal Procedure

How Long Does an Emergency Root Canal Take?

The emergency root canal may be completed within an hour or two depending on the individual case. If there is a severe infection and/or pain, more than one sitting will usually be required.

Is Root Canal Treatment Dangerous?

Some people believe that Root canal materials used during the procedure may be toxic to the individual in the long run. This, however, doesn’t have any valid scientific experimental data behind, to prove it.

So for the time being doctors and scientists accept that RCTs are safe and we have hardly seen anyone come to us with a medical complication that was caused due to the use of RCT materials.

How Much Does a Root Canal and Crown Cost?

The answer depends on which tooth is getting treated and how many numbers of teeth are involved. The total cost also depends on the type of material used for crown or bridges.

A typical root canal treatment along with a crown may cost you anywhere between $300 to $2,500 depending on your location and the dentist, of course. You can get a more recent and accurate data about the cost of root canal treatment from this link.

What Foods Can You Eat After a Root Canal?

It is suggested you eat light and soft foods at least for the initial one or two days. Try to avoid hard and crunchy food items which you may be fond of. Also, avoid very hot food items like a bowl of hot soup.

You can eat the following kind of food items for one or two days. Mashed potatoes, yogurt, ice cream, eggs etc.

Can you drink out of a straw after a root canal?

It is better to avoid drinking out of a straw in the initial phase. However, try to drink a lot of liquid (without a straw) and keep your body hydrated.

Do you Always Need a Crown After Root Canal?

As the tooth becomes nonvital after the root canal therapy, the outer enamel structure becomes brittle. So it is more prone to fracture under pressure than a normal vital tooth. That is the reason why it is always better to go for a crown after RCT than not.

However, in some cases, there may be exceptions and your dentist will be at a better position to judge whether to go for it or not.

Can You Go To the ER for a Dental Emergency?

Your dentist’s clinic is the place to go whenever you have a problem with the tooth or the mouth in general. However, if the dentist isn’t available or if there is a condition with severe bleeding and pain you can rush to the ER. Ultimately you will have to face your dentist if the problem is of a dental origin.

Can You Travel By Air After a Root Canal?

Flying shortly after a root canal therapy or most other dental treatments, commonly causes a sensation of pain or discomfort in most individuals. This is mainly due to the changes in air pressure.

So it is better to wait for at least five to seven days after RCT to make sure that there are no postoperative complications before you board the airplane.

How Long Does it Take to Recover After an RCT?

One to three days should be sufficient to return back to normal after an RCT. If there is pain or infection even after three days post RCT, visit your dentist ASAP.

What Dentist Specializes in Root Canals?

Many general dentists these days with specialized training in RCTs, handle the Root canal treatments very well. However, Endodontist is the one who is meant for performing root canal therapies and other endodontic procedures.

How Is Pulpitis Treated?

Pulpitis is the inflammation of the pulp or the tooth nerve. There are mainly two types of pulpitis. Reversible and irreversible.

Reversible pulpitis as the name suggests can be brought back to normal. This is done using caries removal and restoring the tooth.

In irreversible pulpitis, the infection has already spread to inner layers and the only way to cure the condition is by removing the pulp which is done by RCT.

Does a Dead Tooth Smell?

Yes. Dead teeth smell in many individuals. This is due to the persistent infection and bacterial activity in the region. Also, there may be food getting accumulated in the area which is causing the bad breath.

What’s in The Dental Anesthetic?

The most commonly used anesthetic agent in dental practice is Lignocaine or lidocaine. The commonly used concentration is 2%.

Do You Need Antibiotics After Root Canal Treatment?

In most cases, antibiotics aren’t required after RCT. This may vary depending on the patient and the dentist.

Can Root Canal Infection Cause TMJ Pain?

Root canal infection doesn’t cause TMJ pain.

But there are chances of people confusing the pain originating from a root canal infection as a TMJ pain.

This happens because both have the same symptoms. In both cases, there may be pain in the ear region, dull ache in the jaws, pain radiating towards the head, headache etc. It is better to visit your dentist for more information if you are unsure.

Can Root Canal Infection Cause Trigeminal Neuralgia?

There aren’t any studies conducted regarding this. And there are no pieces of evidence to establish a link between root canal infection and trigeminal neuralgia. So for the time being the answer is a big NO.

How Long After a Root Canal Can you Eat?

After the RCT procedure wait until the effect of local anesthetic wears off. Otherwise, you might end up biting your cheek or tongue while eating.

Also, avoid hard and hot food items until the tooth is restored.

How Do You Know Your Root Canal Treatment Has Failed?

Here are some of the indications of a failed RCT.

  • Persistent pain after RCT for days
  • Reinfection in the area.
  • Swelling in the area
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold even after RCT
  • Pain on biting and chewing using the same tooth

Can You get an Infection After a Root Canal Procedure?

Yes. Only if the Root canal procedure has failed to get rid of the infection completely. The infection in these cases is located near the apex or the tip of the root. The treatment of choice in these circumstances is apicoectomy.

Apicoectomy is a procedure where the tooth root is removed and then the portion is sealed.

Can You Brush Your Teeth After Root Canal Therapy?

You can brush your teeth softly. But please don’t floss the treated tooth if there is a temporary filling placed.

Can I Eat Chicken After RCT?

You can. But don’t use the root canal treated tooth for the job. A better way is to avoid eating chicken and meat altogether, for at least 2 days after treatment and instead eat something softer.

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Medical Disclaimer

This content is strictly the opinion of the author and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical/dental advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician or a dentist. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions.

The publisher of this content takes NO responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians and/or the dentists before beginning any nutrition, supplement, medications or lifestyle program.

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