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How Does a Root Canal Save a Tooth?
A dentist will remove the pulp from the inside of the crown of your tooth and the roots. This removes the infected tissue that causes so much pain and it also keeps the infection from spreading. The pulp can become inflamed or infected from untreated decay, an injury or a crack that allowed bacteria to reach the pulp. The only other way to stop your pain and keep the infection from spreading is to extract the tooth, which is why root canals save teeth.
How Do I Know If I Need a Dental Root Canal?
While these symptoms are indicative of your tooth needing treatment, a dentist will need to take x-rays and examine your tooth before making a decision. Signs include:
- Moderate or severe tooth pain that comes out of nowhere
- Lingering tooth sensitivity
- Gum swelling near the affected tooth
- Facial swelling, or the skin is hot to the touch near the tooth
- Tooth darkening
If you notice any of the above signs, call our dental office and make an appointment for an examination by our root canal dentist.
Who Performs Root Canals?
General dentists and specialist dentists, called endodontists, routinely perform root canals. Typically, dentists refer patients to endodontists for retreatment or complicated root canals. Endodontists are dentists who completed at least two additional years of training after dental in treating the inside of teeth. Root canals are called endodontic therapy, with the word endodontic composed of two Greek words meaning inside and tooth.
What Should I Expect from the Root Canal Procedure?
The procedure takes between one to two hours depending on the number of roots holding the affected tooth. During the procedure, you can expect your dentist to complete the following steps:
- Your dentist will administer Novocain or a similar local anesthetic to ensure the procedure is virtually painless.
- Your tooth is isolated with a rubber dam to control the environment where your dentist will work. The dam prevents saliva, which contains bacteria, from entering the canals.
- Your dentist will drill a small access cavity to reach the canals. He or she will use specialized instruments to work through the hole in your tooth. If the affected tooth is a front tooth, the access cavity is in the back of the tooth, otherwise, the hole is made in the chewing surface. During this step, your dentist will remove any decay or old fillings present.
- Next, your dentist cleans out the canals and then shapes them using root canal files. The canals are irrigated with a disinfecting solution.
- The clean, smooth canals are filled with a biocompatible material called gutta-percha, then your dentist seals the canal and puts a temporary filling in the access cavity.
- You will come back in a few weeks for your root canal crown, which gives the weakened tooth added strength. Avoid chewing hard food on the side of the affected tooth until you get your crown.
Is There a Standard Root Canal Cost?
The cost varies depending on your tooth’s condition and what has to be done to prepare the tooth for the procedure. The tooth’s location also plays a role in the price since the tooth’s location determines how many roots your dentist has to treat. Dental root canals are less expensive than those performed by endodontists. If you have dental insurance coverage, endodontic treatment is usually at least partially covered. If you call for an appointment, your dentist can explain your cost after a thorough examination.
What Are the Types of Root Canals?
Standard root canals are the most common procedure; however, there are also pediatric pulpotomies and apicoectomies. Pediatric pulpotomies remove the diseased pulp from the crown of a baby tooth, not from the canals. We would put a crown on the baby tooth, which should keep your child free of pain until the tooth is ready to fall out. In apicoectomies, the root tip is removed. It’s only done after retreatment failed to correct the problem. An endodontist cuts into your gum to reach the root tip. You can have the procedure even if you have a crown on the tooth.
You may have some discomfort for one to two days after treatment, although it will be minimal and easily relieved with OTC pain relievers.
How Painful Is a Dental Root Canal Treatment?
There is no pain involved in the treatment because the area is numb. Your dentist won’t do anything until he or she is certain you won’t feel anything. If you had agonizing pain before you came in, relief begins when your dentist gives you a local anesthetic. If in the unlikely event you begin to feel pain, you’ll receive more anesthetic. Putting off a root canal because of a fear of pain is pointless since the pain comes from needing the procedure, not the procedure itself. Call our office to make an appointment if you’re in pain. We can help.