How many times have you heard someone joke, “I’d rather have a root canal!” What the media portrays, and what many people believe, is that root canal treatments are painful and should be avoided at all costs. In actuality, most people are surprised when they learn that root canal treatment is rarely painful. However, there are times when it can be uncomfortable if certain procedures are not followed. In the past, sometimes patients weren’t adequately anesthetized, giving root canals a bad reputation. Now, with improved anesthesia techniques, this is rarely the case.

Root canals are often necessary to save a heavily damaged or diseased tooth from extraction, and can even be vital to decrease serious risks to an individual’s oral and general health. Here at Delmarva Dental Services, we strive to make our root canal therapy procedures as comfortable and efficient as possible. With advanced treatment from a skilled and experienced dentist, we can restore the health of your teeth and help you meet your unique needs.

What Is a Root Canal?

Root canal treatment, also known as endodontic therapy, is required when the nerve of the tooth begins to die or becomes infected after it dies. A root canal is a procedure designed to remove the build-up of bacteria that is inflaming the dental pulp (where nerves, connective tissues, and blood vessels reside) and the surrounding nerve chamber. Without root canal treatment, the risk of tooth loss is significantly increased. In addition, these types of serious infections can greatly magnify the risks to one’s general health, potentially leading to heart attack, stroke, and other conditions that could be life-threatening. Root canal therapy can be a vital step toward reducing these risks and restoring the tooth to proper health.

How Do I Know If I Need a Root Canal?

One of the telltale signs that you may need a root canal is a toothache. This can be mild to moderate in severity; however, many patients who need a root canal often experience intense pain and/or pressure in the area of the affected tooth. Swollen gums, tenderness surrounding the tooth, a discharge emanating from the gums, difficulty chewing, tooth discoloration, a persistent bad taste in the mouth, and an abscess forming near the tooth are also common signs that you may need root canal treatment. An abscess can sometimes be noticeable, looking like a small growth on the surrounding tissues. If the nerve of the tooth has begun to die, the tooth typically aches, throbs, and is very sensitive to cold. The tissue around the tooth will likely swell and/or the tooth will often be sensitive to pressure. This can be caused by a deep cavity, crack in the tooth, trauma, or even from repeated dental treatments over the years.

While these are some of the more frequently experienced symptoms, it should be noted that some individuals who need root canal therapy may not suffer any overt symptoms. This makes it even more important to schedule routine dental check-ups on a regular basis so that any potential problems can be identified and treated as early as possible.

How is a Root Canal Procedure Performed?

The root canal procedure involves numbing the patient using a local anesthetic. Usually, the more the tooth has been aching, the more difficult it is to numb. After the tooth is numb, a hole is made in the tooth. The nerve tissue is then removed from inside of the roots. Front teeth usually have one large straight root and the back teeth usually have three or four narrow curved roots. After the canals are shaped and disinfected, a filling material is placed in the tooth. The roots remain completely intact. A custom dental crown is typically recommended to be placed on the tooth once the root canal is complete in order to reinforce the strength of the tooth and protect it from further harm.

A local anesthetic is often enough to minimize discomfort during root canal therapy; however, our practice also offers an array of advanced sedation dentistry techniques that can provide patients with a relaxed, virtually pain-free treatment.

Root Canal Success Rates

Success rates of root canal treatment can vary depending on many factors. The treatment success of newly infected teeth is usually 95 percent. Treatment of teeth with abscesses that have been present for some time and can be seen on an x-ray usually have a 75 percent success rate. The greatest influence on the success rate is sealing the tooth from the oral environment to prevent contamination. The faster and better the seal, the greater the success. This is done by placing a dental crown or an adequate filling.

How Long Does a Root Canal Take?

A root canal treatment usually requires at least one visit, but multiple infected teeth may need to be cared for over the course of two appointments.

What is Recovery Like After a Root Canal?

For most patients, there is no downtime necessary after a root canal procedure. While some residual numbness from the local anesthetic can be expected, most individuals are able to resume normal daily activities immediately. With that in mind, patients who have the procedure while under oral conscious sedation or other advanced sedation techniques will need a brief recovery period while the effects of sedation wear off.

The area surrounding the tooth will feel tender in the first few days after root canal therapy; chewing in this area should be avoided in order to ensure proper healing. Our dentist will provide you with detailed post-treatment instructions that can help you know what to expect.

How Much Does a Root Canal Cost?

Root canal procedures at our practice are customized for each patient; therefore, the price varies among individuals based on the details of their treatment plan. Factors that go into the total price of root canal therapy include the location of the affected tooth, the level of infection present, the extent of dental work necessary, whether a custom dental crown is being placed, and other components.

Our practice will calculate a total estimate of the cost of your root canal procedure and present it to you once your treatment plan is developed at the initial consultation. Root canals are often at least partially covered by dental insurance plans; a member of our team can assist you with questions about whether this is a covered benefit under your policy. We can also talk with you about the comprehensive range of payment methods accepted at our practice, in addition to the dental financing options available. Delmarva Dental Services works with CareCredit® and other reputable companies that offer convenient monthly payment plans for patients who qualify.

Do you have questions about root canal therapy? Please don’t hesitate to contact us today for more information, or to schedule an appointment.

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