Dental Implants

Frequently Asked Questions About Root Canal

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FAQ: Root Canal

Root canal. The term typically invokes immediate fear! But rest assured, you don’t need to experience discomfort during a root canal treatment. In fact, thanks to modern dentistry, a root canal can save your natural tooth and give you many years of normal function preserving your smile.

Why would I need a root canal?

A root canal is required when a tooth becomes infected. These infections are caused by large cavities where bacteria travels into the nerve or cracked tooth from trauma. The usual symptoms include sensitivity to hot and cold food or drinks, tooth discoloration, pain to biting and swelling of the gums or cheek. Sometimes there is no pain or symptoms. We identify problems with a thorough clinical exam and routine x-rays.

What exactly is a root canal procedure?

First, we numb the tooth with a local anesthesia and then use a dental dam to isolate the tooth for a clean working environment. In a root canal procedure, the nerve, or root, is removed so that there is no feeling in the tooth but the tooth itself remains in the mouth. With a dental hand piece, we’ll remove the decayed portion of the tooth and access the pulp chamber and canal to clean out the bacteria. Finally, the pulp chamber is filled with permanent filling materials such as tooth-colored filling material such as composites. In most cases, a final restoration of a crown is required after the root canal is completed to stabilize the tooth and protect the root from fracture.

Will a root canal hurt?

This is the question we’re most frequently asked. The procedure should not be uncomfortable. At our practice, we initiate a discussion up front about any concerns so that we can ensure a relaxing, pain-free experience.

How long will it take?

The initial root canal visit is usually about 1 hour. A second visit for a crown is about the same amount of time 1 hour.

Will I be in pain after the root canal?

Some mild discomfort is normal. You’ll especially notice it if you tap on your tooth with your tongue or finger. Typically, an over-the-counter pain reliever will take care of this minor discomfort.

What happens if I decide not to have a root canal?

It’s understandable if you’re concerned about the necessity of a root canal. I encourage patients to seek out second opinions. If you opt not to have a root canal, several things may happen. You may develop pain or the tooth may abscess, creating a swelling of the gums, face or jaw that may be dangerous. Another concern is that bone may be lost around the roots of the tooth as a result of the chronic infection. This can lead to problems with the mobility of the tooth and eventual loss of the tooth. If you decide you do not want to save the tooth with root canal treatment, the tooth will need to be extracted.

How much will a root canal cost?

The fees depend on several factors, including location of the tooth in the mouth, the type of filling materials and if the procedure is a retreatment of previous root canal therapy or a surgical procedure. A general range of fees at our office is $700-$1,300 which we’ll discuss with you in advance of any work.

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