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Root Canals FAQ

You’ve probably heard lots of myths about root canals in the past, but we’re here to set them straight. Read below about root canal procedures and contact us if you have any questions!

What is a root canal?

A root canal is also known as endodontic therapy and is used to save a tooth that has been irreversibly damaged. This usually happens when the tooth becomes infected or decayed, which requires the pulp and nerves inside to be removed completely. The interior canal system is then cleaned and a strengthening filler is applied.

What is endodontics?

Endodontics is a branch of dentistry that involves specialty education in the dental pulp and the surrounding roots of teeth. An endodontist is a doctor that has had training in this field and can perform your root canal.

How do I know if I need a root canal?

  • If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you want to contact your dentist and find out if you will need a root canal:
    • Dull to severe toothache
    • Discomfort when chewing
    • Sensitivity to cold and hot that lingers even after it has been removed
    • A persistent pimple on the gums
    • Swelling or tenderness of the gums surrounding the pained tooth
    • Darkening of the tooth
  • With one or multiple occurrences of these symptoms, your dentist might require a clinical exam or x-ray to diagnose you for a root canal. Contact us if you are experiencing any of these problems.

Is a root canal painful?

One of the most common myths of root canals is that they are painful. The reason that root canals probably get such a bad reputation is because the infection, itself, is painful– not the treatment. The procedure for root canals is no more uncomfortable than a filling. These days, with advanced technology and modern anesthetics, endodontists have been educated in pain management and most patients describe a pain-free experience.

What happens during a root canal procedure?

After the patient undergoes anesthesia and the area is numbed, a dental dam is placed in the mouth to isolate the infected tooth. The endodontist will create a tiny hole in the top of your tooth so that they may access and remove the infected pulp. Then they thoroughly clean and reshape the canal, preparing it for filling. The material used to fill the tooth is a biocompatible and is then sealed in with an adhesive cement. A temporary filling is used to cover up the access opening. Finally, the endodontist will advise the patient schedule regular checkups to make sure there are no problems and to prevent them for the future.  

What happens after a root canal procedure?

Some people report sensitivity for a day or two after the procedure. Avoid touching or tapping the tooth and try to chew on the other side of the mouth, especially if you’re due to receive a more permanent cap to the access opening. If you do experience tenderness, most of the time it’s nothing to worry about and an over-the-counter medication can help relieve discomfort.

Will I have to take any medications?

Every patient requires different attention, but you might be given anti-inflammatories, antibiotics or– if you’re experiencing severe discomfort–then pain medication may be issued.

What is the cost and does insurance cover root canals?

The cost of a root canal depends on a variety of things and can be worked out with the endodontist. In many cases, the insurance covers at least a portion or most of your treatment. When making an appointment, have your insurance information at the ready to get you started.

Is pulling my tooth better than a root canal?

You must try to keep all of your natural teeth for as long as possible. Many times when you remove a tooth, it can lead to other dental problems including biting problems, tooth drifting, jaw pain, and more. Also, it is much more cost-effective to restore the tooth rather than extracting and replacing it altogether. Most times a root canal will always be the better choice over pulling the tooth, but you must also talk to your dentist to tell you which option is best for you.

If you would like to know more and to find out if you need a root canal, contact our knowledgeable dentists.

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