Root Canals

What is a root canal treatment?

A root canal treatment involves removing the pulp tissue inside the tooth, whether it's inflamed or infected. After removal, we clean the inside of the tooth, disinfect it, and then fill that area back up to make it harder for bacteria to reinfect in the future.

What are some signs that indicate I may need a root canal?

Several signs could indicate that you need a root canal. The most common one is pain in the tooth. Other common signs include swelling in the gums, an abscess, or a small pimple in the gums. Sometimes, there may be no symptoms at all, and the diagnosis is based on x-ray results showing bone loss, indicating an infection underneath the tooth.

Can a root canal save a cracked tooth?

That depends on the extent of the crack. If the crack is small enough where it's gone into the pulp or the nerve of the tooth, but not below the level of the bone that surrounds the tooth, we can save it with a root canal. However, if the crack has reached the roots of the tooth, underneath the bone, we can't save it because bacteria can get into that root canal and cause it to fail in the future.

When is it too late for a root canal?

It's typically too late to do a root canal if there isn't enough of the tooth left for us to fix it with a filling or a crown after the root canal. This is usually because there's a very large cavity on the tooth and we can no longer fix it. Another scenario would be if the infection has been left so long that the tooth is so compromised that it requires an extraction rather than a root canal.

What happens during a root canal?

On the day of the root canal, we first numb the area to prevent pain. Then, we go inside the tooth into the pulp or nerve area and start removing any remaining tissue and infection. We then perform several procedures to disinfect the tooth and remove as much of the bacteria causing the infection as possible. Once the tooth is clean, we fill it up. The filling helps prevent bacteria from reinfecting it in the future. If it's a back tooth, we would then need to look at doing a crown to protect the treated tooth from breaking in the future. If it's a front tooth, we typically will just do a filling to seal the root canal off.

How long does a root canal procedure last?

The duration of a root canal procedure depends on several factors, like the type of tooth and the number of canals in the tooth. A front tooth, like an incisor, canine, premolar, usually requires a shorter appointment as there's not as many canals in the tooth. A tooth like a molar, which has three or four, sometimes even more canals, typically requires a longer procedure.

Will I need a dental crown after a root canal?

If we're working on a back tooth, it's always recommended to put a crown on it after a root canal. The reason is that teeth are very brittle once we remove that nerve and pulp and blood supply from the tooth. The crown acts like a helmet over the tooth, holding it together to prevent it from breaking. When it's a front tooth, we typically just put a filling on the tooth, unless it was very compromised before, in which case we would also recommend a crown.

What type of anesthesia would be used during a root canal procedure?

The main type of anesthesia we use is a local anesthetic, similar to when you're getting a filling done. Another option would be giving some form of sedation, like nitrous oxide or laughing gas, in combination with the freezing to help numb the area better and relax you during the procedure.

How safe is a root canal?

A root canal is a fairly straightforward and common procedure that is very safe. It is non-surgical, so we are working just within the tooth and the slight surrounding area of the tooth. Root canals have a very high success rate.

How do I prepare for a root canal?

It would be a good idea for you to have a good meal before you come in so that you're not hungry right after and having to eat while you're numb and frozen. You can also bring headphones to listen to music or watch TV to distract yourself during the procedure.

How will I feel after a root canal?

After the root canal, the freezing is typically going to last for a few hours. It is normal to be a little bit tender in that area for about two to three days. You can take some extra strength Advil or Tylenol to minimize the pain.

Will my tooth be sensitive after a root canal?

Because we are removing the pulp and nerve tissue inside the tooth, you don't have to worry about any sensitivity to hot or cold as the tooth no longer has the ability to feel that temperature.

How long does it take to recover from a root canal?

The recovery is relatively simple; you usually will have a bit of discomfort or pain for about two to three days which can be managed with over-the-counter medications like Tylenol or Advil. It typically doesn't require you to miss any time from work or other activities.

What is the best way to recover after a root canal?

For the rest of the day after the procedure, just plan to take it easy. By the next day, you might have a bit of slight discomfort, but nothing that should prevent you from going to work or doing your other activities.

Root canal treatment versus dental implants, what are the pros and cons of each?

Whether to opt for a root canal or dental implant really depends on the condition of your tooth. If we can do a root canal and you have enough tooth structure left, that's always going to be the better option than a dental implant as it is less invasive and aggressive than removing the tooth and replacing it with something man-made. If later on down the road something else happens and the tooth fails, we always have the option of going to a dental implant.

Why are dental crowns recommended after a root canal?

Because we remove the nerve and blood supply from the tooth during a root canal, the tooth becomes quite a bit more brittle. Putting a crown on the tooth helps to hold the tooth together and protect it from cracking and fracturing in the future. If you were to get a root canal and then put only a filling in it, there is a very high chance that the tooth would break apart after a few years, requiring extraction.

How much does a root canal treatment cost?

The price of a root canal varies depending on how many canals are in the tooth. In 2024, the rough range for root canals varies anywhere from about $600 to about $1,300.

If you do have any additional questions or any concerns, or you are ready to take action, please give us a call at 1-204-259-3804 and we'll be happy to help.

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