Root Canal

Dental Root Canals for Your Teeth

Many of us have heard the comparisons of painful things to the root canal procedure. Itís not that bad. There are tiny canals within your tooth that may become infected. This leads to the pulp inside your tooth also becoming diseased. Either your dentist or an endodontist can perform a root canal and remove any infection and/or nerve tissue in the canal. The canals are then filled and the tooth receives either a filling or a crown. Crowns are more common in most cases as they add strength to the tooth itself. The procedure itself takes one to two visits.

What are Root Canals?

There are tiny canals within your tooth that may become infected. This leads to the pulp inside your tooth also becoming infected as well. Either your dentist or an endodontist can perform a root canal to remove any infection and or nerve tissue in the canal. The canals are cleaned and then filled and the tooth receives either a filling or a crown.

Who is a candidate for a root canal?

If your tooth is infected or thereís severe damage to the pulp, a root canal will be recommended. An untreated cavity is the most common cause for this infection. The pulp inside the tooth can become inflamed from trauma or extensive restorative work. It can even be affected from a series of fillings being applied in a short period of time. This inflammation usually leads to infection. Pain in the tooth is the most common and obvious symptom.

How are Dental Root Canals Performed?

Depending on the number of teeth and severity affected, root canals usually require one to two visits not including any follow-up visits. Your dentist or Endodontist will numb the area around the affected tooth, or may offer you the option of mild sedation. A rubber dental dam is placed and the tooth is then accessed to the pulp area either through the top or the back of the tooth. The actual root canals are measured after some of the pulp has been removed. This is done so that the dentist can clean the entire canal, and so that enough of the filling material will be used to completely fill the canal. The actual measuring is done with either x-rays or electronic imaging devices.

All of the diseased pulp in the tooth is removed, and the canal is cleaned out thoroughly with an antiseptic solution. This solution will clean all of the canals within the tooth. The canals are then filled with gutta percha, a flexible rubber material. A temporary filling is then put on top of that. A crown or permanent filling will be done after there has been no sign of infection. Crowns are most common since the root canal procedure weakens the tooth and makes it more brittle. The crown is usually placed as soon as possible, within a month or less.

Expect two to three days of soreness after the procedure, or longer if the infection in the root canal was severe.

Types of Root Canals

There are generally two types of root canal procedures. The first (and hopefully only) root canal on a tooth, and the second root canal on the same tooth. Both procedures are the same, other than that if this is the second root canal done on the same tooth it requires more time and expense. This is because your dentist must remove all of the previous filling in the canal and pulp area in order to start again.

How much do dental root canals cost?

The cost of a root canal treatment depends upon which tooth requires the root canal. The front teeth cost less than the back teeth. The difference is because front teeth usually have only one root canal and molars usually have three or more. The costs greatly vary depending upon the type of insurance or discount plan an individual my have. The costs for a crown or permanent filling are additional. Costs for a second root canal, hopefully not needed, on the same tooth are slightly higher.

Pros and Cons of Dental Root Canals

Advantage: The tooth will be healthy again. Discomfort and/or soreness can be associated with root canals, but there should actually be no pain during the procedure as you will be anesthetized. The procedure is not for cosmetics, but rather for your health. The infection will only get worse with time if left untreated. The root canal procedure is successful over 92 percent of the time. The biggest advantage is that the tooth will not need to be extracted in the future.

Disadvantage: Not often, but sometimes infected tissue is pushed through the ends of the root, which will infect the gum. This is easily treated, but can be associated with discomfort until the infection is cleared up. Canals can be calcified for some patients and may not be discovered untial the root canal treatment is initiated. In those cases, the patient will need be referred to a specialist.