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For years, the root canal procedure was regarded as a painful treatment, causing people to feel reluctant every time they would hear “root canal.” With today’s technological advances, root canals relieve pain in your tooth structure and actually rejuvenate the strength and durability of your teeth.
When do I Need a Root Canal?
A root canal is needed when you have a decayed tooth or infected nerve, causing pain, swelling and even tooth discoloration. Decayed and damaged teeth can be seen on an x-ray, determining whether or not you need a root canal. When you get a root canal, your dentist will carve out the inner part of the diseased tooth, clean it and then file the root of your tooth structure with titanium and nickel files.
If you need a root canal and neglect the necessary treatment, your tooth may lose its function and durability, resulting in the need of an extraction.
Inside your tooth are pulp chambers that channel into root canals containing blood, nerve fibers and tissues. When your root canal becomes infected—either by damage to your tooth or tooth decay—then debris fills your roots causing pain in your tooth structure.
If you have neglected getting a root canal for too long, you will then need to have your tooth extracted. Your tooth will most likely be replaced with a dental bridge or implant post in order to restore your tooth’s strength and functionality.
In severe cases, your infection may spread to your neck and head. At that point, you will need much more medical attention.
Who Performs a Root Canal Procedure?
If you need a simple root canal, then your general or family dentist could give you the treatment. However, if you have a more complex case that requires lots of effort to get to the root, then you will need an endodontist—a dentist that concentrates on tooth infections.
About the Procedure
In root canal procedures, you will first be given an antibiotic for a few days before the actual root canal treatment.
When you’re in the office for the root canal procedure, your dentist will then numb your diseased tooth using anesthetics. These anesthetics will seep into the tissue of your tooth with very little discomfort as opposed to traditional anesthetics that caused pain.
Then, your dentist will use a drill to create a tiny hole on your tooth, allowing the cleansing of your root canal with titanium and nickel files. This is a delicate procedure, as your dentist must remove even the smallest amount of debris from the root of your tooth. For precise cleansing, your dentist may use some more tools such as an apex locator and even a microscope.
After cleansing, your dentist will then seal your tooth using a heat gun containing material called gutta-percha, a natural, anti-bacterial material that seals your tooth with 15 to 20 minutes.
After your root canal procedure, you will return to the dental office in about two to five weeks to get a dental filling or crown inserted.
While each case varies, most root canal procedures cost between $500 and $1,000.