About 14 million people will endure a root canal this year. Will you be one of them? Although some trips to the dentist’s chair are unavoidable thanks to bad luck and bad genes, you can lower your risk of a root canal with these dos and don’ts to dental care.
DO SEE YOUR DENTIST REGULARLY
Sure, you may dread seeing your dentist unless its absolutely necessary. But regular checkups – ideally twice a year, according to the American Dental Association (ADA) – are the key to keeping your teeth in tip-top shape. Even if you are pain-free, your dentist may see some hidden problems lurking along your gum line. Plus, you will be able to stock up on a new toothbrush, floss and toothpaste – for free!
DON’T OVEREAT SWEETS
What you eat directly affects your teeth, as diet is critical to your oral health. Sidelining soda and highly-refined carbs like white bread and white rice can keep your teeth free of decay. Excessive snacking on sugary or sticky snacks like candy or popcorn — even raisins — can also wreak havoc on your teeth. So as often as you can, opt for teeth-friendly foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and calcium-rich cheeses, yogurt and milk.
DO BRUSH REGULARLY
Most root canals are necessitated by infected, bacteria-plagued nerves. And while bacteria is present in the mouth and teeth at all times, too much of it can lead to trouble. Keep your mouth clean by brushing with fluoride toothpaste every eight hours for two to three minutes each time. Replace your brush every three months, and do not forget to floss once a day to reach those cracks and cervices between teeth and just inside the gumline — places that are missed by the toothbrush.
DON’T IGNORE PAIN
When you have a toothache, it is hard to think about anything but that persistent, nagging pain. But keep an eye out for less obvious signs of trouble. Puffy, red, tender and bleeding gums, prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, and persistent bad breath are signs you should see your dentist right away.
If you do find yourself scheduling a root canal soon, don’t fret: According to the American Association of Endodontists, modern technology and better anesthetics have made root canal treatments no more painful than getting a filling. Now that is something to smile about.