Root Canals: What They Are and How To Avoid Them

Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
April 9, 2020

Man and doctor discussing options while looking at an iPad

Root canals can be scary, but they might be the only way to salvage a tooth that would otherwise need to be extracted—so they can’t be that bad, right?

To learn more about what a root canal is, and to discover some of the steps you can take to limit your odds of ever needing to undergo this procedure, check out the information below.

What Are Root Canals?

Let’s say that one of your teeth has a severe amount of decay. Or, as another example, your dentist finds that one of your teeth is infected. In serious cases like these, a simple filling might not cut it. So, rather than pull the tooth, your dentist may recommend a root canal to prevent the decay or infection from spreading.

What can you expect during this procedure? Well, it’s actually pretty straightforward. And don’t worry, you’ll be numb just like when you get a filling, so you shouldn’t feel much, if anything at all.

Put simply, the dentist will work on removing the pulp and nerve in the tooth, thoroughly cleaning out the inner area of your chomper before sealing it. And a crown might be placed on top to make the tooth good as new. You get to keep your natural tooth, no extraction needed. How neat is that?!

But, wait, don’t you need the nerve of the tooth?

Nope! Your tooth will be fine even though it no longer has a nerve. That’s because, after your pearly white breaks through the gums, the nerve only serves to help you sense temperature when you eat or drink something. You’ll still be able to chew your favorite foods without a problem.

And, as far as the pulp goes, it plays an important role while your tooth is developing and growing. After that, a mature tooth can certainly remain in place and do its job if it doesn’t have a pulp. Interesting, right?

How to Avoid Root Canals

Now that you have a better idea of what a root canal involves, and when it might be necessary, it’s time to cover a few of the ways to prevent the problems that would require this procedure. After all, even though this treatment has its benefits, it isn’t something that anyone wants to have to go through if they can avoid it!

  1. Brush, floss, and see your dentist for checkups and cleanings:

    Of course, a strict oral hygiene routine is the first, and easiest, step to take to prevent needing a root canal. The right strategy can help you keep your teeth and gums clean and strong, and it may help keep decay away.

    Another reason to take really good care of your pearly whites: needing to receive several treatments on the same tooth, or needing to get a large filling in a tooth, might increase the odds of someday needing a root canal. So, if you want to avoid root canals, it’s a great idea to take steps to avoid dental decay altogether.

  2. Wear a mouthguard to prevent tooth injuries:

    If a tooth is damaged because of an injury, such as while playing sports, a root canal might be necessary, depending on the extent of the damage. So it’s wise to wear a protective mouthguard whenever you’re participating in any activities that could put your teeth at risk of being chipped or cracked.

    A mouthguard might also be helpful if your dentist has told you that your teeth are showing signs of bruxism (clenching and grinding), which may also lead to damage so severe that a root canal would be recommended.

  3. Limit foods and drinks that could damage teeth:

    What you eat and drink daily can affect the health and strength of your teeth. Hard foods, including hard candy, may increase the risk of accidentally cracking your chompers. Chewing on ice isn’t the best idea either, as it might boost the odds of cracking a tooth or damaging a filling. And if teeth are already weak, even healthy foods like crunchy veggies and fruits might lead to damage. Then, when breaks and cracks occur, bacteria can more easily make their way into a tooth to wreak havoc.

    In terms of beverages, anything sugary and acidic may increase the odds of decay. Citrus juice or soda, for example, might be detrimental because they could harm enamel, and the sugar they contain can help bacteria in the mouth thrive as well.

Root Canals - Avoidable with the Right Strategy

The bottom line is this: if you want to avoid needing a root canal, diligently caring for your teeth can make a difference. Beyond at-home care, though, having the right dental insurance will allow you to affordably see your dentist for preventive care to keep those pearly whites clean and bright. And, if you do ever end up needing a root canal, the right dental plan will also help you afford it. What’s a good place to start? Look into Spirit plans to discover what your options are when it comes to coverage for treatments like root canals.


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  • 8/1/2021

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