What is a root canal and why do I need root canal treatment?
Endodontic (root canal) treatment treats the inside of the tooth. Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes: deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, faulty crowns, or a crack or chip in the tooth. In addition, trauma to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.
During root canal treatment, the inflamed or infected pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected, then filled and sealed with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. Afterward, the tooth is restored with a crown or filling for protection. After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth.
Why go to an Endodontist (Root Canal Specialist)?
Endodontists are dental specialists with additional two or more years of specialized training beyond dental school. Many endodontists use state-of-the-art technology such as operating microscopes, digital imaging, ultrasonic instrumentation and fiber optics, to treat their patients quickly and comfortably.
Is root canal treatment painful?
Today, getting root canal treatment is often no more uncomfortable than having a filling. In fact, root canal treatment doesn’t cause pain but actually relieves it. Advances have made the treatment a virtually pain-free experience, many times accomplished in a single visit. Endodontists understand a great deal about pain management. With modern techniques and anesthetics, the vast majority of patients report that they are comfortable during the procedure.
I’m worried about x-rays. Should I be?
No. While x-rays will be necessary during your endodontic treatment, we use an advanced non-film computerized system called digital radiography that produces radiation levels up to 90 percent lower than those of already low dose conventional dental x-ray machinery.
If the tooth isn’t bothering me, why do I need a root canal?
Some patients may experience tooth pain initially and then it goes away on its own or with the help of antibiotics. Just because it has stopped hurting doesn’t mean it is no longer infected. Root canal treatment is designed to disinfect the inside of the tooth (the source of infection) and stop the spread of infection.
Some patients may never experience pain with an infected tooth. In fact, root canal infection is often discovered through routine radiographs and/or clinical examination. The tooth may have a chronic infection that the body has accommodated enough to not have gone beyond the patient’s pain threshold.
Prior to performing any root canal, the endodontist will thoroughly examine all radiographic and clinical findings to determine if a root canal is indicated.
Would extraction (pulling the tooth) be a better alternative?
Saving your natural teeth, if possible, is the very best option. Nothing can completely replace your natural tooth. An artificial tooth can sometimes cause you to avoid certain foods. Keeping your own teeth is important so that you can continue to enjoy the wide variety of foods necessary to maintain the proper nutrient balance in your diet. If your dentist recommends extraction, ask whether root canal treatment is an option.
Endodontic treatment, along with appropriate restoration, is a cost-effective way to treat teeth with a damaged pulp and is usually less expensive than extraction and placement of a bridge or an implant. Endodontic treatment also has a very high success rate. Many root canal treated teeth last a lifetime. Placement of a bridge or an implant will require significantly more time in treatment and may result in further procedures to adjacent teeth and supporting tissues.
How long does a root canal take?
The amount of time a procedure takes depends on the details of the procedure you’re having and the type of tooth involved. We estimate your time in the office to last approximately 1-2 hours. The treatment itself can often be completed in one visit. At times, a second appointment may be needed.
What happens after my root canal is done?
When your root canal treatment has been completed, a report of your treatment will be sent to your dentist. You will need to contact their office for a follow-up restoration within 30 days of completion at our office. Your dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth.
Is it expensive?
Saving your tooth through endodontic treatment is less expensive and less invasive than an extraction and replacement with a bridge or implant. Cost will depend on your dental insurance coverage. Our staff will help with getting your insurance information and let you know the cost of your root canal. If you do not have any dental insurance, we offer discount options or a payment plan with Care Credit.