Scott Levine, D.D.S
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Root Canals: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know
Why are root canals done?
Root canal therapy is required when the nerve of the tooth becomes irreversibly damaged. This damage can occur from decay, trauma, or a crack in the tooth.
What is a common root canal symptom?
Pain, swelling, and sensitivity to hot or cold. Another indication of nerve damage is the tooth becoming darker in color. Sometimes, it can only be diagnosed with an x-ray or other tests by an endodontist.
What is done during a root canal procedure?
The purpose of root canal therapy is to clean out the infected tooth pulp tissue within the roots. After all the nerve has been removed, the canals are filled with a sealer.
How long will the procedure take?
Generally, root canals take one or two appointments for a front tooth (anterior), and two or three appointments for a back tooth (posterior). A tooth can have from one to four roots; all of the roots must be treated. Difficult cases may require even more visits.
Will the tooth need any more work after the treatment is finished?
Yes, the tooth will require a permanent restoration. This could range from a simple filling to a large build-up with posts and pins. The tooth is more brittle after a root canal treatment and therefore is more susceptible to fracture. If the filling is large, the tooth may need a crown as well. A crown protects the tooth from breaking.
Isn't it simpler to take out the tooth?
It may seem simpler to have the damaged tooth removed; however, it is really much healthier and more economical to save it. If the extracted tooth is not replaced, the teeth next to it can drift into the empty space. Replacing an extracted tooth involves either expensive bridgework or a partial denture.
Will the root canal procedure hurt?
During the actual treatment, your tooth will be numb as it would be for simply filling a cavity. The treatment is usually started because the tooth is sensitive; it may take a day or two for the tooth to get back to normal. Generally a mild painkiller is enough to keep you comfortable during this time. If something stronger is needed, your endodontist will prescribe it. If the tooth is badly infected, an antibiotic may be needed as well.
How much will it cost?
The cost of root canal treatment and therapy varies with the number of canals which need to be treated. There will be a separate charge for the restoration, depending on the extent of the procedure. Your dentist will be glad to discuss the charges with you for all the expected treatment.
Don't Forget to Floss!
Clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner. Decay-causing bacteria can hide between teeth where toothbrush bristles can't reach. Flossing helps remove plaque and food particles from between teeth and under the gum line.
Visit Our Office Regularly!
Take good care of your smile. Remember to visit the dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams.
Mouthwash Is Important, Too!
Brushing and flossing may not be enough. The ADA now recommends using an antimicrobial mouthwash to reduce plaque and prevent gingivitis.