What Is a Root Canal Procedure? Cost, Treatment, Side Effects

Casey Ledford23 February 2023

If you are in need of a root canal, you are not alone! More than 15 million root canals are performed annually in the U.S. as a normal practice for salvaging affected teeth. This implies that the typical endodontist, a specialist in root canals, conducts about 25 root canals every week. Don’t you want a new, healthy smile? Below, we answer some of the most common questions asked about root canal procedures and what you can expect from one.

We understand that even something as little as a root canal can affect your life, from wanting to shy away from photos or not being able to eat the foods you want. A simple root canal procedure can put your life back on track and have you enjoying the things you used to in no time!

What Is a Root Canal?

Your teeth’s roots include little openings known as canals that are filled with blood vessels and nerve fibers that nourish and stimulate your teeth. These blood vessels and nerves are crucial to the health of your teeth, and if they become infected or damaged, they may start to hurt. The pulp inside the tooth is removed during a root canal, a dental procedure that restores a damaged tooth by filling the canal and filling the opening. Your teeth could last for a lifetime with the help of this surgery.

A regular dentist or an endodontist, a dental specialist, can do root canals. Your dentist will be able to advise you on the best course of action, which may include a root canal operation if you are feeling sensitive or in pain.

Are Root Canals Painful?

A root canal isn’t more unpleasant than a routine dental operation like getting a filling or having a wisdom tooth extracted because patients are given an anesthetic. However, a root canal typically leaves the mouth a little uncomfortable or numb following the treatment and may even cause some minor discomfort for a few days.

How Do I Know If I Need a Root Canal Treatment?

When the pulp, the soft interior of a tooth, is hurt, inflamed, or infected, a root canal is carried out.

Even if the pulp is dead, the tooth’s crown, the portion visible above the gums, can still be intact. The greatest method to protect the tooth’s structure is to remove damaged or infected pulp.

The following are common reasons for pulp damage:

  • a cavity that is untreated and has deep deterioration
  • A chip or crack in the tooth
  • Multiple dental treatments in the same tooth
  • a tooth injury (you could hurt your tooth if you get struck in the mouth; even if the tooth doesn’t fracture, the pulp could still be harmed)

The most typical signs of pulp damage include tooth discomfort, swelling, and a warm sensation in the gums. To confirm the diagnosis, your dentist will examine the sore tooth and take X-rays. If your dentist determines that you require a root canal, they may recommend an endodontist.

What Happens During a Root Canal Procedure?

Your healthcare professional will take dental X-rays of the afflicted tooth before starting your root canal. This makes it possible to assess the degree of injury and confirms that root canal therapy is the best course of action. The steps that will be carried out during your root canal procedure are as follows:

  • Anesthesia. The affected tooth and the gums around it are first given topical anesthetic to make them feel better. Additionally, sedatives such as nitrous oxide, oral sedatives, and intravenous (IV) sedation are utilized in dentistry to help you unwind. If you suffer from dental anxiety, your doctor might suggest sedation.
  • Placing a dental dam. A tiny rubber dam is put over the area before starting root canal therapy. This keeps the tooth dry throughout the treatment and isolates it.
  • Access opening. The pulp is then accessed by creating a tiny hole in the tooth’s crown.
  • Remove the pulp. The nerves, blood arteries, and tissues inside the tooth are removed using teeny dental tools.
  • Canal sculpting. The pulp chamber and root canals are cleansed, sanitized, and shaped once the pulp has been eliminated.
  • Filling the canals. Gutta-percha, a flexible, rubbery dental material, is then used to fill the empty canals.
  • Sealing the tooth. The tooth is then sealed with a temporary dental filling to stop bacteria from reappearing.
  • Putting in the last repair. Most of the time, a dental crown is required to safeguard the repaired tooth and fix your bite. Crown fabrication typically takes two to three weeks because they are built to order. The temporary filling is taken out and the permanent crown is put in once your crown is ready. In some cases, you might be able to get a crown at the same visit.

Root Canal Risks

There is not much risk to getting a root canal with the improvements and modernization in today’s technology. Your tooth is attempted to be saved by having a root canal. The method, however, cannot always be used because the damage is too severe or the enamel is too weak. These components may result in tooth loss.

If part of the infected material is left behind or if the antibiotics are ineffective, there is also a danger of an abscess at the tooth’s root developing.

Consult your dentist about an extraction if you’re worried about getting a root canal. This frequently entails replacing the broken tooth with a partial denture, bridge, or implant.

Root Canal FAQ

What causes you to need a root canal?

Infection of the pulp inside your tooth by oral bacteria necessitates root canal therapy. This typically occurs when a cavity is neglected over an extended period of time. Additionally, it could happen if a traumatized tooth cracks or sustains other damage.

What exactly happens in a root canal?

An endodontist performs a root canal when they remove the infected pulp and nerve from the tooth’s root, clean and shape the interior of the root canal, fill the opening, and then seal it. Your dentist will next cover the tooth with a crown to safeguard it and return it to its pre-damage state.

Do you get put to sleep for a root canal?

To make people more comfortable throughout their root canal operation, there are two types of sedation. The person being sedated is awake during conscious sedation. The patient is sedated while unconscious, which puts them to sleep.

Can you drive home after a root canal?

In most circumstances, you will be able to drive yourself home if you had only nitrous oxide or no anesthesia after your root canal procedure. Conscious oral sedation patients will require transportation to and from their appointments.

Can a root canal be done in one day?

The length of a root canal might range from 90 minutes to 3 hours. Sometimes it can be completed in a single appointment, but it can need two. Your dentist or an endodontist can perform a root canal on your tooth. Root canal therapy is a specialty that endodontists have received further training in.