What Is a Root Canal?
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What Is a Root Canal?

Your teeth are more than just a beautiful smile – they are critical oral structures that are necessary for chewing and eating, and even for speaking. The health of your teeth can be undermined when you have an infection within the interior of your tooth. A root canal removes the infected tooth pulp and bacteria, and allows your endodontist or dentist to preserve your tooth for years to come.

Root Canal Definition

When you run your tongue over the hard surface of your teeth, it’s hard to imagine that beneath the tough enamel surface are two more layers of tissue. First is dentin, a layer of hard calcified tissue; beneath the dentin is tooth pulp, a soft tissue that fills the interior of your tooth space. When the pulp of your tooth becomes infected, a root canal is necessary to remove the infected pulp and clean out any remaining bacteria. If left untreated, the infection of the pulp could spread to the nerve beneath the tooth or even the jaw bone itself. Thus, a root canal definition is simply to remove infected dental pulp from the tooth structure.

Once the infected tooth pulp has been removed and the interior of the tooth cleaned and cleared of any remaining bacteria, your endodontist or dentist will fill the space and seal the tooth, similar to the process of having a cavity on the surface of your tooth cleaned and sealed.

Do Root Canals Hurt?

Thanks to the highly skilled techniques developed by endodontists and dentists, root canal pain doesn’t have to be a something to fear or dread. Using anesthesia before the procedure begins allows your endodontist to successfully treat your infected tooth pulp with a minimum of pain and distress to you.

For patients who have concerns about the root canal procedure of who have fears of the dentist based upon past experiences, your dentist or endodontist can tailor a treatment plan to your needs. This may include using laughing gas, local anesthetic, or even IV anesthesia. Discuss your concerns with your dentist or endodontist; they will listen to you and offer you anesthesia options that will lessen or remove the possibility of root canal pain and make your root canal treatment as stress free as possible.

What Causes a Root Canal

Generally speaking, chronic tooth pain that intensifies with normal chewing or biting can often be a first and most dominant sign that your tooth may need a root canal. If you experience an injury to your tooth that cracks the tooth, or if you have a pre-existing condition that weakens your tooth and causes breaking and cracking, you may also need a root canal.

Additional signs you need a root canal that you should never ignore when brushing your teeth or during eating or chewing include any swelling or pustules on your gumline below your tooth as well as gums that look darker and swollen. These can be signs of active infection beneath the surface of your tooth that is impacting your gum tissue. Further signs that you may need a root canal include sensitivity to changes in temperature – both hot and cold – that does not subside once the hot or cold food or beverage is no longer in contact with your teeth.

Returning to Daily Activities After Root Canal Treatment

Endodontics procedures, such as a root canal, have evolved over the years. Now, with the use of the latest technology and endodontics procedures, you can expect to safely return to most daily activities after your root canal is finished.

Patients who have a successful root canal often experience numbness at the site of the procedure until the anesthesia fully wears off. This is normal and to be expected. Some patients also experience greater sensitivity to the tooth and gum area after having a root canal. Again, this is normal and expected as your tooth and the surrounding tissues of your gum fully heal after your root canal.

Many patients find that simple over-the-counter pain relievers can help to reduce sensitivity and any lingering pain after a root canal. Patients should be cautious about eating or drinking immediately after having a root canal because of the residual numbness from the anesthesia. Soft foods are advised until the numbness is gone to reduce the risk of accidentally biting your tongue or cheeks while numb.

How Much Does a Root Canal Cost?

The unknown cost of a root canal is often a barrier for patients who are concerned about the financial impact of getting treatment. However, delaying treatment over concerns about the cost of a root canal can lead to greater problems, a worsening infection, and thus can require your root canal dentist to do a more extensive root canal. An extensive root canal procedure to treat a deeper infection with more than one tooth impacted and in need of a root canal will increase the overall cost of your treatment plan.

If you are unsure about how much your root canal will cost, ask your endodontist or dentist for an estimate of treatment cost. If you have dental insurance, contact your policy administrator to ask about the coverage options offered for a root canal. Many dental insurance companies offer different percentages of coverage for a root canal.

Your dentist or endodontist may also have financial payment plans available to help you manage the cost of a root canal. The bottom line: a root canal saves your tooth and is ultimately less expensive than simply extracting or pulling your tooth. Once a tooth is extracted or pulled, the cost of creating a bridge or installing a dental implant is far more expensive than a root canal.

Preserving Your Natural Tooth with Endodontics Procedures

Your teeth and your smile are an important part of who you are. Having a root canal allows you to preserve your natural teeth rather than simply having them extracted or pulled, and allows you to keep the smile you know and love. Because the tissue removed in a root canal – the tooth pulp – is not necessary for your tooth to survive, your endodontist or dentist can preserve your natural teeth. This is a far more conservative approach than simply extracting a tooth. Once a tooth is extracted, you will need to have artificial replacements such as a bridge or an implant.

If you are a patient experiencing root canal failure – that is, you had a root canal done by a previous dentist and you are still experiencing symptoms such as severe pain, inflammation, or a weakened tooth, there is hope. The endodontists and root canal dentist at Smile Angels of Beverly Hills can fully examine your tooth and the original root canal and can create a treatment plan to address the root canal failure and get your tooth back to optimal health once again.

Ignoring tooth pain can lead to further infection and deterioration of your tooth structure and can even cause infection of your gums and jawbones. Don’t let your concerns about having a root canal keep you from getting the treatment you need. Call Smile Angels of Beverly Hills today for a free consultation. Our team of skilled dentists and endodontists will customize a treatment plan to address your tooth pain and preserve your natural tooth structure. We look forward to helping you and your smile.

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