5 things you need to know before a root canal treatment


When a tooth has become infected or severely decayed, it can cause severe pain and swelling. In these cases, patients have two options: extraction of the tooth or a root canal treatment. Extracting a tooth can cause several potential complications, including difficulty chewing, shifting of other teeth, and TMJ pain caused by a change in the bite.

Before you decide between root canal treatment or teeth extraction, you need to know about these five factors about root canal:

1- Why do you need root canal treatment?

If one of your teeth is infected, because of decay or trauma to the tooth, root canal treatment is the easiest and most affordable option to save the tooth. A root canal is most often the treatment of choice to preserve the natural tooth. A root canal is typically less painful than extraction and carries a shorter recovery time. Most patients state that root canal pain is very similar to the discomfort experienced when having a tooth filled.

2- How a root canal procedure is done?

To understand the root canal treatment procedure, you need to know the anatomy of the tooth. The part of your tooth that extends past the gums and is visible to the naked eye is called the crown. The soft center of your tooth is referred to as the pulp chamber while inside the root of your tooth is known as the root canal, which extends from the tip of the root into the pulp chamber and contains the nerve of the tooth. Both the pulp chamber and the root canal are filled with connective tissue and blood vessels that provide nourishment to the tooth.

Decay that is limited to the crown of the tooth can typically be treated with a filling, but decay that has reached the pulp chamber or the nerve of the tooth requires root canal treatment. An abscess, which is a pocket of pus at the tip of the root that can occur with or without tooth decay, usually produces severe pain and must be treated with a root canal. A tooth can function with or without the nerve, making root canal treatment a viable option for saving your tooth.

During root canal treatment, your dentist will remove the infected nerve and pulp from the root canal system, seal it with a biocompatible material called Gutta Percha. Incisors and canines typically have a single root and a single canal. Premolars usually have two, and molars have three or four canals. Root canal treatment relieves the pain of an infected or abscessed tooth.

In the days and weeks, before you find out you need a root canal, the primary symptom is most often a severe toothache. If your tooth becomes infected, you may notice sudden swelling of one side of your face.

Both dentists and endodontists can perform root canal procedures. Endodontists are dentists who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of injuries and diseases to the pulp or nerve of the tooth. Your dentist will help you decide who should perform your root canal based on several factors, including your dentist’s level of comfort in performing the procedure in your case and the difficulty of your specific root canal procedure. Curved or narrow tooth canals can make a root canal procedure more difficult.

When you arrive for your appointment, the dental staff will take an x-ray of your tooth. Taking an x-ray allows the endodontist to determine the shape of your root canals and the status of the bone surrounding the tooth.

Next, your dentist will apply local anesthesia to numb the area surrounding the affected tooth. A rubber dam is placed around the tooth to prevent saliva from coming in contact with your tooth during the root canal treatment.

Your dentist will test your level of feeling to ensure you’re numb enough to begin the procedure. Once you have lost sensation near the tooth, a cavity will be drilled into the tooth to allow access to the pulp chamber and nerves. Nickel-titanium files, increasing in diameter with each step of the process, are inserted one by one into the root canals of the teeth, removing the pulp, connective tissue, blood vessels, and the nerve of the tooth. Your endodontist will also use EDTA, sodium hypochlorite, and Chlorhexidine to wash away bacteria and debris during the process.

Your dentist will now fill the pulp chamber and root canals with a rubber compound and sealer paste and fill the cavity he or she created to access the inside of your tooth. In most cases, tooth restoration such as a crown is required following root canal treatment due to significant decay.

3- Is it normal to have pain after root canal treatment?

If you were in pain before your root canal, you should notice that the pain is relieved significantly following your procedure. You may notice that the tooth is sensitive in the days following your treatment; this is a normal response to inflammation in the tissue surrounding the tooth and can be managed with over the counter anti-inflammatories and pain relievers.

You should not chew on the tooth being treated until treatment is complete to avoid breaking the tooth. If you have another appointment to cement a crown, avoid chewing on the tooth until after your crown is seated. At all stages and after treatment is complete, continue to brush and floss twice daily and see your dentist regularly for prophylactic cleaning and exam.

4- What is the success rate of root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment has a 95% success rate. In some cases, a crack in the root of the tooth or an inadequate restoration can cause infection to return to the tooth. In these cases, an endodontist can usually perform root canal retreatment or apicoectomy to relieve pain, treat the infection, and save the tooth.

5- What is the cost of root canal treatment?

The cost of a root canal treatment can vary from $600 to $1400 or more depending on the number of roots and level of difficulty. If you have any questions regarding root canal treatment, call our Houston Endodontists at Omega Dental Specialists today at (713) 322-7474.

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