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Root Canal Treatment

Root canal treatment is a procedure in which the dental pulp (the tissue, nerves, and blood vessels inside the tooth that surround the root) is removed. Root canal treatment is usually only necessary when the pulp has become infected, abscessed, or the tooth is decaying. While root canals have a scary reputation, advances in technology and procedure have dramatically reduced the pain and discomfort associated with them; often, the pain from the abscessed tooth is much greater than anything from the procedure itself. And, with a success rate of nearly 98%, root canal treatment is one of the most effective and reliable ways to save your natural tooth.

At Castle Dental, we’re committed to providing you the care and services you need for a lifetime of good oral health, including root canals, and we believe in doing everything we can to create and protect the beautiful, healthy smile you deserve.

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How do I know if I am a candidate for root canal therapy?

Anytime you experience painful oral or dental symptoms, it is important to schedule an appointment with your dentist. Pain is a sign that something is not right, and, using the information from dental x-rays and exams, your dentist can make an accurate diagnosis and help you determine the best way forward to relieve that pain.  

You will need root canal treatment if you have an infected or abscessed tooth; it will not heal on its own. Symptoms of an infected or abscessed tooth can vary in severity, or may be entirely unnoticeable. This is why it’s also important to visit your dentist regularly, so they can identify any problems you may not even be aware of. 

Mild symptoms of an infected tooth may include:

  • Persistent pain on or within the tooth or in the surrounding tissues. Pain can be either sharp or dull, and it may be intermittent or persist for several days.
  • Sensitivity to hold or cold. If the temperature of your food or beverage is affecting your ability to eat or drink, you may be experiencing an infection.   

More serious symptoms of an infected or abscessed tooth might include:

  • swelling of the lymph nodes
  • fever and/or chills
  • visible infection in the form of pus pimples on the gums or surrounding tissue

How does a tooth become infected?

Infections are caused by bad bacteria that accumulates in your mouth. When bacteria is allowed to linger in the spaces of your teeth and gums, it can infect them and spread irritation to surrounding tissues. In order to try and fight the infection, your body will send white blood cells to the area to eradicate the bacteria. Over time, these white blood cells die, resulting in an accumulation of dead material, which will eventually form a pus pocket underneath the tooth in root. There are many nerve endings in this tissue and when the pus pockets begin pressing on these nerves, you start to experience mild to severe pain. Depending on the severity of the infection, this pus pocket can also erode the tooth’s roots, causing permanent damage and making the tooth harder to salvage. 

Is root canal treatment urgent?

Root canal treatment is necessary to save an infected tooth, and while it is not an emergency, it is important to have it treated as soon as possible to prevent decay and to keep the infection from spreading.

Potential problems with leaving an abscessed tooth untreated may include:

  • Increased pain and sensitivity. 
  • Potential loss of the tooth, resulting in the need of an implant or other prosthesis
  • Infection that spreads into the jaw bones, blood stream, or even the brain

Who will perform my root canal?

This depends on the severity of the infection. If the abscess is in its early stages, it is likely that your dentist will perform your operation. However, if the pus pocket is large, eroding away the tooth, or in a tricky spot, you may be referred to an endodontist. Endodontists have extensive training in treating and saving dental pulp. They specialize in root canal therapy and other complex dental issues involved with saving teeth. 

Why do root canals have such a bad reputation?

Before modern advances in medicine–such as local anesthetic–root canal treatment used to be very painful, primarily because it involved the sensitive tissue and nerves inside and under the tooth. Today, however, root canals are a routine dental procedure and are usually much less painful than the abscessed tooth they are designed to treat.  

Pain and discomfort during the procedure are minimized by a local anesthetic, which is injected into gums to numb the surrounding nerves, and tends to be the most uncomfortable part of the process. If you are still experiencing pain following this initial injection, let your dentist know immediately so that he or she can make adjustments. You will likely find that the relief from the pain you’ve been experiencing will far outweigh any discomfort you may experience during the procedure. 

How much do root canals cost?

The cost of a root canal treatment can vary greatly, ranging anywhere from $700-$1800. This is a result of several factors such as the location and severity of the infection, the type of tooth, the type of crown used, and whether a dentist or endodontist is performing the treatment. However, because root canals are considered a necessary procedure, most dental insurance plans will cover some or even all of the cost of it.

While cost is an important factor to consider as you make decisions about your dental health, Castle Dental believes it should not be a determining one. Leaving an abscessed tooth untreated can have significant consequences to your overall health and, at Castle Dental, we make it our priority to help you afford and receive the dental services you need. If financial circumstances are keeping you from proceeding with necessary treatment, please discuss your options with our team. We accept most major dental insurance plans, and we offer a variety of financing and payment plans, including our own low-cost OneSmile Dental Plan. 

What takes place during a root canal procedure?

Here is what you can expect during a routine root canal procedure performed by either a dentist or endodontist.

1) Procedure Prep. A local anesthetic will be injected into the gums surrounding the infected tooth. This should prevent you from feeling any discomfort during the procedure. In the rare case that you do feel pain, notify your dentist immediately. A small plastic drape will be placed over the tooth to isolate it and cotton tubes may be placed in the cheeks or surrounding area to absorb salvia and keep the space sterile.

2) Exposing the infected pulp. This is done by drilling a small hole in the center of the tooth in the direction of the decaying root. This will hole will expose the abscessed pulp.

3) Cleaning out the infected pulp. Your dentist will then work to remove the infected tissue. When the abscess has been thoroughly cleared, a cleaning solution will be injected into the newly cleaned hole. This is done to ensure that no remaining bacteria or infection is left behind. 

4) Sealing the tooth. The cleaned space can now be sealed off with a thermoplastic material which is heated and compressed against the inside walls of the tooth. 

5) Filling the tooth. Once sealed off, the hole left by the root canal in the pulp and the hole left by the drill in the tooth are both filled using a resin.

6) Temporary crown. A temporary crown is placed over the top of the tooth to seal off the repair, prevent infection from getting back inside the tooth, and protect the tooth during the healing process. After a 1-2 week period, your dentist will remove the temporary crown and replace it with a permanent one. These come in several material varieties, including one that resembles the natural tooth. 

What happens after my root canal?

  • Your dentist will likely send you home with a prescription for antibiotics. These are effective in aiding the body’s natural defenses when it comes to destroying any remaining infection and preventing a new one from developing.
  • You will want to avoid crunchy and sticky foods as they may cause a bit of discomfort to your tender tooth and gums and they could cause damage to the newly placed crown.
  • Be sure to continue good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing twice daily.
  • You should otherwise be able to return to your daily routines with no more pain.

What happens if my root canal does not work?

A root canal failure is uncommon, with only about 5% of infections returning, and many times these are not actual failures. There are circumstances when a large tooth with more than one root develops an infection in the root and pulp that was not previously abscessed, or perhaps the entire infection wasn’t removed from hard to reach crevices deep in the tooth.

If you do find yourself in the rare circumstance to need another root canal on a previously treated tooth, you do have a few options. 

  • Retreatment. Your dentist or endodontist will remove the crown and proceed with another root canal. You can expect a similar experience and recovery.
  • Apicoectomy. This procedure uses different methods to achieve a similar result. Rather than drilling through the tooth, the dentist will expose the tooth roots by peeling back a small flap of the gum, removing the very tip of the root and sealing it off. This method may be used to avoid removing the previously installed crown.
  • Extraction. If the tooth cannot be saved, the tooth may need to be removed. While this is not an ideal outcome,you may have the option of an implant or other prosthesis to restore the aesthetics and function of a healthy smile.

How can I protect my newly restored smile?

Here are some simple things you can do to keep your teeth and gums comfortable and healthy.

  1. Daily brushing and flossing, at least twice a day.
  2. Routine visits your dentist for cleanings and x-rays.
  3. Limit the foods and beverages that can cause excessive irritation, enamel deterioration, and bacteria growth.
    • Citrusy and acidic drinks and foods, like lemons or pickles, can be particularly hard on the enamel of the tooth.
    • Sugary foods and drinks settle into the crevices of the mouth. Because sugar attracts bad bacteria, highly sugared candies or sodas are generally the culprit of decay and infection.  

Root Canal Treatment at Castle Dental

At Castle Dental, we believe quality dental care should fit in your schedule and in your budget. That’s why we offer the same affordable and comprehensive services at all of our convenient retail locations, all with flexible scheduling and emergency care options, so that you can get treatments like root canals when and where it works best for you. And, in addition to accepting most major dental insurances, we also offer a variety of financing and payment plans.

Root canal treatment can’t wait. If you think you may be suffering from an infected or abscessed tooth, find the Castle Dental location nearest you and schedule an appointment today!