How To Avoid Needing A Root Canal
If you’ve ever heard a friend say, with fear, “I have to get a root canal” and weren’t sure what she was so upset about, we can tell you. First, the infection that has prompted the procedure is quite painful. When someone needs a root canal, that means pulp tissue in the root of the tooth has become infected. This is no small deal—it can make chewing even soft foods or consuming anything mildly hot or cold devastatingly painful. Treating this problem is no treat, either. First, you’ll need to go under local anesthetic. Then, you may need to take painkillers for days after the procedure. But, what’s more is that it will probably cost around $1,000. So your friend isn’t being dramatic, we promise. If you can avoid having to get one of these nasty infections and the procedure that follows, do. Here are things you can do to avoid needing a root canal.
Skip hard candy
Chewing on hard candy might be your method for curbing your appetite and staving off bigger cravings, but just one chomp down on something too hard can cause a crack in your tooth. If you must have hard candy, suck on it—don’t chew.
Don’t chew ice
The moment you have a crack in your tooth, bacteria can get in deeper—to the root—and stands a chance to cause an infection. Avoid any behaviors that might cause cracks, such as chewing on ice.
If you’ve had work done…
If you have had work done, like crowns, fillings, or crack restorations, avoid crunchy foods like apples or carrot sticks. While most healthy teeth can handle these foods, teeth that have had previous repairs done may not.
Brush twice a day
Be militant about brushing twice a day. Bacteria only needs a few hours to build up so it’s important to get in there and clear it out twice a day. Remember to dedicate thirty seconds to each quadrant.
Floss at least once a day
Floss at least once a day, but don’t hesitate to floss after every meal if you feel so inclined. If food gets lodged inside of your gum line, neither your brush nor mouthwash can get it out.
Beware of night clenching
Look for signs that you’ve been clenching your jaw during the night like waking up to headaches and sensitive teeth. If you do clench your jaw at night, you’ll need to wear a night guard to prevent cracks.
Eliminate or reduce acid
Acidic foods and beverages such as soda, lemonade, orange juice, and vinegar can deteriorate the teeth, making them more prone to cracks. Try to limit these in your diet.
Go to the dentist twice a year
Go to the dentist for your cleanings twice a year. Plaque only needs a few months to build up, and it’s important that your doctor cleans that away. You simply don’t have the tools at home to do a thorough job.
More if your dentist insists
If your doctor says you need to stick to a tighter cleaning schedule, listen. Years of bad oral hygiene habits could mean that your plaque is more aggressive, and your dentist will need to clean it more frequently until things get better.
Don’t sit on mouth pain
If you feel any gum, tooth, or mouth sensitivity, go to your dentist right away. Your dentist may be able to catch deterioration before it becomes so bad that it puts you at risks for cracks or infections.
Wear a mouth guard during sports
If you play sports, you’ll need to wear a mouth guard. Contact sports in particular put you at risk for slamming your jaw down too hard, and suffering a crack.
Have your annual exam
Don’t forget to schedule your annual exam. During this, your dentist can take x-rays and do a thorough exam to look for any deterioration or areas that need special attention.
Do occasional laser cleanings
Your dentist likely offers you laser cleanings for an increased fee. Stop turning those down. They probably cost anywhere from an extra $75 to $90, but just doing them every other cleaning can greatly help prevent plaque buildup.
Avoid foods high in sugar
High-sugar foods can leave sugar sitting on your teeth, causing deterioration. If you absolutely must consume high-sugar foods, brush, floss, and rinse thoroughly after.
And avoid foods high in starch
Starch turns into sugar—don’t forget that. So a little piece of croissant lodged between your teeth will eventually turn into pure sugar, sitting on your teeth, weakening them.