A root canal is a dental procedure that is performed to treat an infection in the center of a tooth, thereby saving the tooth and getting rid of the painful toothache that usually accompanies it. It’s an out-patient procedure and is painless – despite what most people think.
When someone is informed that they need a root canal, they immediately wonder how painful it’s going to be. Root canals themselves are completely painless. It’s the toothache that’s caused by the tooth infection that is causing all the pain. Once the root canal is performed, the infection goes away and so does the pain.
Many patients are afraid or nervous to have a root canal performed – sometimes to the point of having anxiety attacks. The dentist can prescribe medication that will calm the mind and make the procedure less stressful for some people.
What Necessitates a Root Canal?
The first time you realize you might need a root canal is when you start to experience a toothache that won’t go away. It is usually characterized by a deep throbbing sensation that sometimes radiates outwards to other parts of your jaw. The dentist will take X-rays of your mouth in order to determine which tooth is infected and what the proper course of action will be.
Toothaches occur when the inside of your teeth become infected with bacteria. This is due to either an injury, fracture or a cavity that has been left untreated. If the root canal procedure is not performed, the infection will eat through the pulp inside the tooth and cause it to either fall out on its own or need to be extracted by a dentist.
What’s Involved with a Root Canal?
Root canals are usually comprised of a four-step process. Treatment is often performed over two office visits spaced out by a couple of weeks.
- The dentist or endodontist will first numb the area of your mouth he’s working on. A local anesthesia is used, and it will not cause any drowsiness or side effects. Once the area is numb, the dentist places a rubber dam in your mouth to segregate the tooth he’s about to work on. This helps keep the tooth dry from saliva and provides a sanitized working environment.
- The dentist or endodontist has several small tools he will use to create an access opening in the tooth. Usually he will go in through the top. He will then use specialized dental tools to reach inside the access cavity and remove the diseased and damaged pulp from the tooth.
- Once the area is completely sanitized and disinfected, it will be filled with a medical grade rubber-like material. A temporarily filling will be used to close the hole and you will be sent home while you wait for the permanent crown to be manufactured.
- A few weeks later your dentist will place the permanent crown on top of the tooth. Sometimes a small post is inserted into the root chamber in order to help brace and stabilize the crown.
Sometimes a surgical microscope is used to assist the dentist in removing the infection. After the diseased portion of the pulp is removed, he will irrigate the area with lukewarm water and might pack some antibiotics inside the cavity. The antibiotics will help kill any remaining infection.
How Much Does a Root Canal Cost?
The overall cost of a root canal depends upon how much work needs to be performed by a dentist. Prices can range anywhere from $700 on the low end, all the way up to $1,500. It also depends on which tooth needs to have a root canal. Generally speaking, front teeth are less expensive than the back molars.
The good news about root canals is that if you have dental insurance, they will cover anywhere from 50% to 80% of the treatment. While most major dental insurance plans require you to wait anywhere from 6 months to 1 year from the time you sign up to the time you get the root canal performed, there are dental insurance plans that only require a 30-day waiting period before full coverage kicks in.
Root Canal Retreats
Sometimes root canals can go bad after a few years. This is most often due to bacteria finding their way back into the tooth area via microscopic holes in your mouth. You will know when it goes bad when you start to get a toothache in the same area. Root canal retreats are quite common and are completely painless. The dentist will remove the crown, scrape out any infection in the cavity area, pack it with antibiotics, and close it up.
After the dentist sends you home and the local anesthesia wears off, you might experience some soreness or pain in the general area. This is completely natural. The dentist will give you instructions on how to deal with any pain that might arise after you leave the office. It usually subsides in a day or two. It’s very important that you don’t smoke (including eCigs) during this time period as the smoke could cause the healing time to increase considerably.
Root Canal Specialist on the Magnificent Mile
At Water Tower Dental Care, root canals are our specialty. We have helped thousands of patients get rid of their painful toothaches and saved their teeth from having to be extracted. If you’d like to learn more about root canals, or just how painless they can be, schedule an appointment today. If you’re in immediate pain, give our offices a call at (312) 787-2131 and we’ll do our best to try to see you same day.