What is Root Canal Treatment?
Root canal treatment, also known as root canal therapy, is a dental procedure in which the inner tissue, known as dental pulp, is extracted from within your tooth roots. Root canals are performed when the tooth root becomes infected or abscessed. Though the procedure has a reputation for being painful, modern anesthetics allow root canals to be performed without pain. In fact, a root canal will almost always alleviate any pain that you’re experiencing due to an abscess or severely decayed tooth.
Any general dentist is qualified to perform root canal treatment, but if your tooth roots happen to be abnormally shaped, or your condition is severe, your dentist may refer you to a dental specialist who practices endodontics. Endodontists focus on diagnosing tooth pain and root canal treatment and other procedures relating to the tooth’s interior.
Clear Signs of Needing Root Canal Treatment
An abscess happens when the tooth roots and tissues surrounding them become infected. A pocket of pus manifests as your body sends white blood cells to the infected area to fight off the oral bacteria, causing the infection. The pocket of pus, aka, the abscess exerts pressure on the nerves which travel through your tooth root. In most cases, the abscess also erodes your tooth tissue. If neglected, an abscess can lead to tooth loss, and any present infection can quickly spread into your jaw bone, blood, and even brain tissue. In extraordinary cases, untreated dental abscesses can be deadly. Frequently, root canal treatment allows an abscessed tooth to be preserved and prevents the following consequences of an abscessed tooth.
6 Common Symptoms of an Abscess Tooth
- Excruciating pain in and around the tooth in question. This pain is often sharp and searing, and sometimes more of a dull ache.
- Extreme, prolonged sensitivity to hot and cold foods and fluids.
- Severe discomfort on one side of your mouth when you bite or chew food.
- Swelling in your lymph nodes to either side of your jaw.
- Low-grade fever and accompanying chills.
- The appearance of a white pus pocket on your gums at the base of your affected tooth.
Many patients encounter most of the symptoms mentioned above, while many others only experience a few symptoms. In sporadic cases, you may not have any symptoms of an abscess, but your dentist may detect one in its early stages during an oral exam. If you are experiencing the symptoms above or your dentist suspects you may have an abscess; they will take x-rays of your jaw to locate and confirm the abscess and measure the extent of the damage.
Root Canal Treatment Time
After your dentist has created x-rays of your tooth and has had the chance to evaluate them, they will most likely schedule you for a root canal treatment procedure. You may be advised to complete a round of antibiotics before the procedure. These antibiotics will help your body fight off the infection, making the anesthetics used before the root canal more effective and reducing your pain in the days leading up to the root canal treatment.
Upon arrival for your root canal treatment, the dental hygienist will start by injecting a local anesthetic, such as lidocaine. Inside of a few minutes, the area will go numb. Your dentist may then apply a sheet of foam or plastic over the tooth to isolate it from the other teeth. They may also place some cotton rolls in your mouth to absorb saliva and keep the work area dry.
What Tools Does a Dentist Use to Perform a Root Canal?
Next, the dentist will utilize a medical drill to create an opening in your affected tooth’s center. You will most likely feel some mild vibrations, much like when having a cavity filled, but you should not feel any pain. If you feel a tinge of pain, let your dentist know; they will deliver supplementary anesthetic to keep you comfortable and restful.
The access hole drilled out by the dentist will be created deep enough to allow access to the soft tissues within your tooth’s roots. Once the optimal depth is achieved, your dentist will use special tools to scrape and remove the root’s tooth pulp. Once complete, a sanitizing solution will be used to kill any remaining bacteria. Lastly, your dentist will use a rubber-like material to fill the now-empty tooth root canals. The access hole in the top of the tooth will then be filled with composite resin or metal amalgam, much like a cavity.
Typically, once a root canal is finished, your dentist will house your tooth with a temporary crown. You will be required to go back to the dentist’s office for a follow-up appointment a week or two later and have a permanent crown surgically placed. The dental crown will protect your weakened tooth from additional decay and other possible damage.
What to Expect After a Root Canal
Recuperating from a root canal is a simple process for the vast majority of patients. If you receive a temporary crown, you will need to avoid consuming overly sticky or crunchy foods, at least until you have the permanent crown surgically placed. You should not feel any pain during your recovery period. Many people have some slight sensitivity to heat or cold, which may occur in the teeth surrounding the treated tooth. This should subside within a week, and using sensitivity toothpaste will help. You may be advised to continue to take antibiotics for several days after a root canal. Antibiotics will help your immune system fight any remaining bacteria in your gums and bone tissues surrounding your tooth in question. Always make sure you take prescribed antibiotics as long as your dentist advises you to, even if your pain subsides before your medicine is finished.
Care for a tooth that has received root canal treatment is the same as any other healthy tooth. Brush and floss around it regularly, and visit your dentist for routine checkups. The dentist will order x-rays routinely to guarantee the tooth underneath the crown is healthy.
Preventing the Need for Future Root Canal Treatments
Abscesses that lead to the need for root canal treatment begin as tooth decay or gum disease. The same type of oral bacteria causes gum disease, dental abscesses, and tooth decay. Practicing good oral hygiene can reduce your risk of all three problems. Some ways to prevent the need for future root canals include:
Thorough Tooth Brushing and Flossing Habits
Properly brushing and flossing your teeth will almost always keep bacteria at bay, helping prevent tooth decay and periodontal disease, which can both lead to an abscess. Brush twice a day for at least two minutes, using a soft toothbrush and anti-cavity toothpaste. Make sure you floss daily, carefully making a complete “c” motion around both sides of each tooth.
Regular Dental Exams
Make sure to visit the dentist for routine checkups twice a year or as recommended by your dentist. This will ensure that if you develop any gum disease, its discovered early and can be cared for with better oral hygiene so that an abscess doesn’t form.
Early Treatment is the Key
If you discover any sign of gum disease or tooth decay, immediately visit your dentist for professional treatment. Sure signs of cavities’ presence include constant bad breath, sensitivity to temperature changes, black or brownish spots on the tooth, and aching pain in your teeth.
The Cost of Root Canal Treatment at a Dentist Near Me
The cost of root canal treatment will depend on your local area’s economy, which tooth needs therapy, and whether you need treatment by a general dentist or an endodontist. Affordable root canal treatment, performed on a front tooth, may cost around $700+. Premolars are generally more expensive to treat, costing, on average, $800+. Molars are the most costly to treat, and typically cost $900 or more. In case you need the treated tooth covered with a dental crown, which is usually the case, there will most definitely be additional fees.
Because root canals are considered a necessary treatment for an abscessed tooth, dental insurance often covers the associated costs. You may need to pay out-of-pocket expenses if you opt for a premium crown, such as those made out of porcelain, rather than metal amalgam.
If you’re currently suffering from a dental abscess, use our “dentist near me” form to locate our offices near you. Please make an appointment by calling us, texting us, or emailing us. When a root canal is performed promptly, it can often save a tooth that would otherwise need to be extracted. The treatment is simple, painless, and results in a healthier and more attractive smile.
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