Having a tooth out is the same as having an operation and, because of this, you must look after the area to speed healing and to reduce the risk of infection. Here are some pointers:
- For the first 24 hours, try to avoid eating hot food, don't smoke, don't drink any alcohol and try not to disturb any blood clot which might have formed.
- Don't rinse your mouth for six hours after extraction. After that, rinse gently with warm salty water - half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of water is enough.
- Brush your teeth as normal to keep your mouth as clean as possible.
- You may feel some small pieces of bone work their way out of the socket - don't worry, this is perfectly normal.
- There may be some swelling and a bit of discomfort in the first two to three days. If you need to, take some ordinary painkillers - aspirin, ibuprofen or paracetomol will be fine.
- If you feel pain immediately after the tooth has been removed, it might be where the blood clot has broken down leaving an empty hole in the gum. This is called a 'dry socket' and will need to be looked at by your dentist. Simply go back and the dentist will pack the wound to ease your discomfort.
- Your dentist may have given you some gauze to place onto the area where the tooth has been removed - if not, a clean cloth handkerchief will do just as well (but not a paper tissue).
- Roll it into a small firm pad large enough to fit over the gap (probably around 1cm by 3cm).
- Sit up and gently clear away any blood clots around the gap using the gauze or hanky.
- Put a clean pad over the gap (from tongue side to cheek side) and bite down on it firmly for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Take the pad off and check whether the bleeding has stopped. If not, apply a fresh pad and contact your dentist
Root Canal Therapy
What is root canal treatment?
Root canal treatment (also called endodontics) is needed when the blood or nerve supply of the tooth (known as the pulp) is infected through decay or injury.
Why is root canal treatment needed?
If the pulp becomes infected, the infection may spread through the root canal system of the tooth. This may eventually lead to an abscess. If root canal treatment (RCT) is not carried out, the infection will spread and the tooth may need to be taken out.
Does it hurt?
No. A local anaesthetic is used and it should feel no different to having an ordinary filling done.
What does it involve?
The aim of the treatment is to remove all infection from the root canal. The root is then cleaned and filled to prevent any further infection. Root canal treatment is a skilled and time-consuming procedure. Most courses of treatment will involve two or more visits to your dentist.
At the first appointment, the infected pulp is removed. Any abscesses, which may be present, can also be drained at this time. The root canal is then cleaned and shaped ready for the filling. A temporary filling is put in and the tooth is left to settle.
The tooth is checked at a later visit and when all the infection has cleared, the tooth is permanently filled.
What will my tooth look like after treatment?
In the past, a root filled tooth would often darken after treatment. However, with modern techniques this does not usually happen. If there is any discolouration, there are several treatments available to restore the natural appearance.
What if it happens again?
Root canal treatment is usually very successful. However, if the infection comes back the treatment can be repeated.
What if I don’t have the treatment?
The alternative is to have the tooth out. Once the pulp is destroyed, it can’t heal and it is not recommended to leave an infected tooth in the mouth. Although some people would prefer an extraction, it is usually best to keep as many natural teeth as possible.
Will the tooth be safe after treatment?
Yes. However, it is better to restore the tooth with a crown to provide extra support and strength to the tooth.
Where can this treatment be carried out?
Root canal treatment is a routine dental procedure, which your dentist will be happy to do for you.
What about aftercare?
Root-treated teeth should be treated just the same as any other tooth. Remember to clean your teeth at least once a day, preferably with a fluoride toothpaste. Cut down on sugary snacks, and keep them only to mealtimes if possible. See your dentist for regular check-ups.