Root Canals

What is a root canal?

A root canal is a last ditch effort to save a tooth. Perhaps due to trauma, cavities, or other related reasons the tooth begins to die or is dead and this process is not reversible. The vital part of the tooth, called the pulp, needs to be removed, disinfected, and then plugged with a rubber material called gutta percha. When properly done with good technique, the success rate of a root canal is 95+%.

Do root canals hurt?

Once proper anesthesia is achieved, a root canal is no longer a painful procedure. A dying tooth often has infection and inflammation associated with it. Infection and inflammation make it more difficult to achieve proper anesthesia because it neutralizes the anesthetic. However, certain steps can be taken to increase the likelihood of achieving proper anesthesia. This doesn’t mean that all root canals have infection or inflammation and in those cases achieving proper anesthesia is straightforward.

I heard that all root canals need crowns. Is this true?

Not all root canals require crowns, but most do. The reasoning behind it is that in order to access the pulp and perform the root canal an access hole must be made in the top of the tooth down to the pulp. This hole causes the tooth to be structurally unstable. Fractures are a frequent occurrence with teeth that have received a root canal but no crown. The dentist evaluates the tooth that received the root canal to determine whether a crown is necessary.

How is a root canal performed?

If you experience any of these symptoms, your dentist will most likely recommend non-surgical treatment to eliminate the diseased pulp. This injured pulp is removed and the root canal system is thoroughly cleaned and sealed. This therapy usually involves local anesthesia and may be completed in one or more visits depending on the treatment required. If your tooth is not amenable to endodontic treatment or the chance of success is unfavorable, you will be informed at the time of consultation or when a complication becomes evident during or after treatment. We use local anesthesia to eliminate discomfort. In addition, we will provide nitrous oxide analgesia if indicated. You will be able to drive home after your treatment, and you probably will be comfortable returning to your normal routine.

How much will it cost?

The cost associated with this procedure can vary depending on factors such as the severity of damage to the affected tooth and which tooth is affected. In general, endodontic treatment is much less expensive than tooth removal and replacement with an artificial tooth.