Root Canals, when are they necessary?

A root canal procedure, also called endodontic therapy, is a procedure designed to replace the infected pulp from the center of a tooth with an inert material. Many patients worry that their root canal treatment will be a painful experience, but in reality, it is most often a very comfortable and easy procedure. In fact, it only takes a little longer than placing a regular filling. Root canals are one of the most efficient and affordable methods to treat an acute toothache or a dental infection and provide quick pain relief.

Causes for a Root Canal

The leading cause for a root canal is infection and inflammation inside the tooth’s center where the nerve resides, and the leading cause of infection is tooth decay (or a cavity) reaching the nerve. Cavities don’t cause pain until they reach the nerve of the tooth and, if left untreated, can lead to inflammation followed by a dental abscess. A dental abscess can ultimately only be treated by a root canal procedure or by removing the tooth. In some cases, a root canal may be necessary after extensive dental work such as extensive dental fillings or dental crowns. Lastly, a root canal may need to be performed when a tooth has been damaged or traumatized.

Taking an anti-inflammatory medication, such as Ibuprofen can help relieve a toothache but seems like it can only work as a temporary relief.

Does a root canal hurt?

Dr. Day says, “The key to a comfortable root canal is an adequate anesthesia. To ensure a healthy root canal, I always do two things: I use a different type of anesthetic than what I use for routine dental work, and I assure that enough time is allowed for every root canal procedure because teeth that are infected or inflamed may take longer to get numb.”

Dr. Day also says, “I completely understand that patients anticipate pain with a root canal procedure, but I always remind them that the inflammation or infection inside their tooth before the root canal procedure is painful and the root canal will almost immediately take that discomfort away. So, a root canal’s purpose is to take that pain away and not to be the cause of pain.”

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Is a root canal a better option than a dental implant?

A root canal is a great option for keeping your natural tooth. By keeping your tooth, you’ll be able to avoid problems associated with losing that tooth such as unwanted tooth migration, bone loss, or difficulty chewing. However, sometimes a tooth is too infected or is missing too much structure to undergo a root canal. When a tooth can’t be treated by root canal therapy, a dental implant is a great option for replacing a missing or infected tooth.

Signs and Symptoms that could Lead to a Root Canal

Sometimes teeth are sensitive to temperature changes but do not need a root canal. A root canal is recommended when there is an acute toothache that does not improve and keeps patients up at night. Root canals can also be recommended if any of those symptoms persist:

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  • Sudden and severe sensitivity to cold temperatures

  • Extreme sensitivity to touch and pressure

  • A large cavity has reached the pulp center of a tooth
  • Swelling or a dental abscess is visible on the gum surrounding a tooth
  • An X-ray shows an infection near an end of a tooth’s root

How much do root canals cost?

Most dental insurances cover a portion of this procedure. For patients that do not have dental insurance coverage, however, the cost for this procedure depends on the position and severity of the tooth needing a root canal. At Coddington Dental, we offer easy-to-understand dental payment plans so patients can receive the treatment they need. We will estimate in advance based on your insurance status the cost of your root canal after an initial consult.

Do I need an endodontist to perform a root canal?

In most situations, Dr. Jodi Day can complete root canals in 1-2 visits; however, some teeth have a complicated anatomy, therefore, as endodontist should perform this procedure.

Cracked tooth and root canal prognosis

If a crack in a tooth is small, a root canal can be performed, and a tooth can be saved. If it is a larger crack or break that extends to the roots of a tooth, it would be most beneficial to have the tooth extracted (removed).

More about potential complications

Are root canals safe for my health?

Root canals are safe for your overall health as long as no residual infection remains inside the tooth. If a tooth is extremely infected or cracked, the chance of saving the tooth with a root canal is slim, as it’s hard to remove any residual infection remaining in the canals of the tooth. Lingering infection that remains inside a tooth can lead to a low-grade infection at the apices of a tooth. This could potentially create higher levels of inflammation in a body and lead to medical conditions. You will begin with a consult with your dentist to ensure if a root canal can adequately treat your tooth. Also, check the best option for your overall health.

Is there root canal treatment for children?

Children use their back teeth for chewing and maintaining space necessary for permanent teeth to come in. A root canal treatment may become necessary to protect a child from losing a primary tooth in addition before their permanent tooth is ready to replace it. A root canal for children is called a pulpectomy treatment.

Will I feel sensitivity and pain after a root canal?

It is common to have mild gum sensitivity for a few days following the root canal procedure. However, if the gum sensitivity and pain return after several days, months or even years after a root canal is completed; it could be a sign of reinfection and the tooth needing attention.

Can I whiten a root canal treated tooth?

Most teeth that have undergone a root canal get darker over time and simple teeth whitening may not be enough to hide the darker tooth color. Dental veneers or dental crowns can correct discoloration associated with a root canal procedure.

If you have a severe toothache or a dental abscess, call Coddington Dental to make an appointment. You can request your appointment online anytime.

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