What Is a Root Canal?
A root canal, also known as root canal therapy, is a restorative dental treatment that prevents patients from tooth loss or necessary extraction. Root canals help patients to keep their natural teeth, thus avoiding the need for a costly dental restoration to replace a missing tooth.
Root canals are recommended if a tooth has experienced such significant decay that a dental filling will not be able to treat the tooth. Root canals are also necessary if you’ve developed an infection within the tooth.
Although you may have heard otherwise, root canals are no more uncomfortable today than getting a dental filling. They also don’t take much longer than getting a filling. Before your treatment begins, the area surrounding the infected or decayed tooth will be anesthetized.
The dentist will next drill a tiny hole in the tooth to access the interior of the tooth. All decay and bacteria will be cleaned from inside the tooth. Antibiotic medication will be applied. The interior chamber of your tooth will be sealed with a special dental material. The treated tooth will then be covered with a dental crown.
Benefits of a Root Canal
Root canals save teeth. It is always in your best interest to maintain a natural tooth instead of having it extracted. The reason? When a tooth is removed, the tooth root is also extracted. Tooth roots are vital to maintaining your jawbone and the appearance of your jaw. So all efforts, including a root canal, should be exhausted before having a tooth pulled.
If you have a tooth extracted, you’ll need to plan for a dental restoration, such as a dental bridge or dental implant, to prevent gaps in your smile.
Are You a Good Candidate for a Root Canal?
Most patients are good candidates for a root canal, providing the decay is too extensive to be treated with a filling or the tooth is infected. The only way to be sure that you need a root canal and not, for example, a dental filling is to schedule a dental appointment at the first sign of any problem.
Signs and symptoms that you may need a root canal include:
- Sharp, throbbing pain
- Pain when you chew
- Pain from hot, cold, or sweet foods
- Swelling or discoloration in the gums
Irrespective of whether you need a root canal, you should see a dentist as soon as possible for any new pain, sensitivity, toothache, bleeding gums, or a tooth that feels loose.
Frequently Asked Questions About Root Canals
How long will a root canal take?
Most procedures take less than 90 minutes.
Will I feel pain during the root canal?
No. We ensure that the area of your mouth to be treated is completely numb before beginning your procedure. Our dentists check with you periodically to ensure you’re comfortable and pain-free.
When can I eat after a root canal?
You can eat as soon as the local anesthesia wears off. Because you will likely have a temporary crown on the tooth and you may have some sensitivity, it is best to avoid hard, crunchy, and chewy foods after a root canal.
Does insurance pay for a root canal?
All dental insurance policies are slightly different. Most offer some coverage, either for the procedure or for the dental crown. Our team will be happy to file a claim for you.