What is a Root Canal?

A dental root canal is a surgical procedure used to remove diseased, damaged, or exposed tooth pulp. It’s one of the most common dental procedures and also one of the most intimidating, especially for those who have never had one. The good news is they tend to go smoothly, eliminate pain, and leave you with a healthier mouth.

Why Do I Need a Root Canal?

Dentists recommend root canals when the pulp in a tooth is injured or infected beyond self-repair. The process is an intervention that increases the odds you’ll be able to keep your natural tooth.

If you forgo a root canal, there’s a very good chance the tooth in question will require extraction. Signs that indicate you might need a root canal include:

  • Ongoing moderate to severe tooth pain
  • Sensitivity to heat, cold, or touch
  • Tooth pain that keeps you awake at night
  • Pain that occurs when you bite
  • Cavities
  • Discoloration
  • Swelling of the gum tissue around the affected tooth

A recommendation for a root canal is possible if you have any of the above symptoms. The best way to determine if a root canal is needed is to schedule an examination.

Do All Dentists Offer Endodontic Treatment and Root Canals?

Most general dentists offer root canal surgery. In some cases, we’ll refer you to an endodontist. Endodontists specialize in complicated cases.

Regardless of your situation, we’ll make sure you get the dental care you need.

Root canals are a one-visit process that takes about two hours if only one tooth is affected. In some cases, you’ll need to make a return visit if your dentist suggests a crown to protect the affected tooth.

The steps of a root canal include:

  • Application of a local anesthetic to number the tooth and the area around it
  • Shielding the tooth to keep it clean and isolated while we work
  • Opening the crown of the tooth so your dentist can reach the chamber where the pulp is located
  • Removal of the pulp, cleaning, and shaping of the canal
  • Disinfection and deep cleaning of the area with fluid
  • Filling the canal with gutta-percha, which is a rubbery material
  • Capping of the tooth to prevent fracturing

These are the basic root canal steps, but every case is different depending on complexity.

What is the Cost of a Root Canal?

The cost of a root canal varies from person to person. We provide you with an estimate of the cost before work begins.

Factors affecting the cost of a root canal include:

  • Damage to the tooth
  • Preparation
  • Number of roots in the tooth in question (front teeth have fewer roots than molars)
  • Who is providing treatment (general dentist or endodontist)

Dental insurance usually offers at least partial coverage of root canals. We’ll discuss your insurance coverage and your payment obligations before scheduling your service.

Are There Different Types of Root Canals?

Basic root canal surgery usually works for molars and other teeth. Some patients require one of two more complicated endodontic treatments, such as:

  • Apicoectomy: dentist removes the tip of the root from the tooth, usually due to the failure of a previous treatment
  • Pediatric pulpotomy: dentist cleans out the infected pulp but leaves the nerves intact

Do Root Canals Hurt?

It’s a common misconception that root canals are extremely painful. This isn’t true. Most patients are in far more pain before their treatment than they are during or after.

No matter whether you need a basic root canal or a more complicated endodontic treatment, we’ll use anesthetic to number the area and ensure the maximum level of comfort.

If you think you need a root canal or you have questions about a dental concern, give us a call.