Everything You Need to Know About a Root Canal Procedure
At your last regular dental check-up, you received some unfortunate news; you’re going to need to have a root canal procedure done. Because of the unpleasant myths and rumors you’ve heard about root canals, you’re feeling apprehensive. The good news is, they are indeed just myths and rumors; the treatment is not as painful as people think it is. Most of the fear comes from not knowing what to expect, the unknown. The more educated you are about the things that scare you, the less frightening they seem. Luckily, we’ve got plenty of knowledge we can share that will provide you with a sense of comfort as you undergo the procedure.
Why do I need a root canal?
A root canal treatment is required when the root of your tooth becomes infected. Common causes can range from having a cracked tooth, a deep/large cavity, repeated dental treatment or trauma to the tooth, or any injury that causes severe damage to the root.
What is the process like for a root canal?
• If you or your dentist suspect you may need a root canal, the first step will involve X-rays to determine where the decay is located.
• Once the dentist determines which tooth needs the root canal, local anesthesia is administered to the affected tooth. Once numb, the dentist will create an opening through the crown of the tooth, down to the pulp chamber. (The pulp is contained in the center of a tooth that is made up of living connective tissue, cells, and nerves and helps to grow the root of a tooth during development.)
• The next step is removing the infected/inflamed tissue. This is done using special tools that clean the infection out of the canal. The dentist then prepares the canal for filling material by shaping it. Irrigation methods are then used to clean the canals and remove debris.
• The canal will then need to be filled with a permanent material. Typically, this is done using a material known as gutta percha. (Gutta percha is a hard, tough thermoplastic substance.) Filling the canal with this material helps in preventing infection or contamination.
• A temporary filling is placed on top of the gutta percha to seal the opening until the tooth receives a permanent filling or crown. A crown, also known as a cap, looks like your natural tooth and is placed over the top of a tooth.
• In some cases, your dentist will place a post into the root, next to the gutta percha. The post gives the crown more support.
• The final step will require a follow-up appointment to have your temporary filling or crown replaced with a permanent one. The temporary cap will only protect the root from bacteria and infection for a short time, so it’s imperative to get the permanent crown/filling cemented in place when you return for a follow-up visit with your dentist.
Is the procedure painful?
When most people hear “root canal” they associate it with pain. Having a severe amount of discomfort during this procedure is a common misperception. The pain comes from the infection residing inside the tooth, not the treatment itself. A root canal treatment is no more painful than getting a cavity filled. The local anesthetic will numb the tooth and allow you to be as comfortable as possible during the procedure.
After a root canal procedure, that tooth will no longer be sensitive to hot or cold foods and beverages. You can, however, experience sensitivity in the area surrounding the tooth for a few days after treatment. If this happens, your dentist can prescribe a medicine to reduce inflammation.
How much do they cost?
The real pain of a root canal procedure comes from the blow your bank account will receive if you don’t have insurance. Doing research ahead of time and comparing prices in your area can help you determine what price you should be expecting. Prices will also differ depending on which tooth needs the treatment.
We used FAIR Health, a nonprofit organization that collects health care cost data, to determine the average price for three different reasonable root canal procedures:
• Front Tooth: $762
• Molar: $1,111
• Bicuspid: $879
These prices will vary depending on your location, dentist, and what your insurance will cover. Those prices do not include the filling or crown you will need. A filling should cost less than $500, and you shouldn’t pay more than $1,300 for a crown. To look up average costs in your area, you can use the FAIR Health website.
Preventive measures can be taken to avoid needing a root canal procedure. Keeping up on your oral hygiene by brushing and flossing, regular dental checkups (at least twice a year), and taking care of any cavities with a filling as soon as possible are all necessary actions you need to take to avoid needing a treatment like this. Visit Salt Lake Dental’s blog for more tips and information about excellent oral hygiene.