Root Canal Therapy

What is Root Canal Therapy?

Root Canal Therapy is a very common dental procedures performed, well over 14 million every year. This simple treatment can save your natural teeth and prevent tooth loss and the need of dental implants or bridges.

At the center of your tooth is the pulp. Pulp is a collection of blood vessels that helps to build the surrounding tooth.  It also contains nerve tissues with pain and temperature receptors.  Infection of the pulp can be caused by trauma to the tooth, deep decay, cracks and chips, or repeated dental procedures.  This infection and inflammation can spread down the tooth into the bone.  This progression can irritate pain and pressure receptors found in the periodontal ligament.  This is a thin layer of tissue that attaches the tooth to the jaw bone. Symptoms of the infection can include, lingering sensitivity/pain to hot or cold, pain in the tooth and or gums, pain upon chewing or biting, or swelling near the tooth.  Occasionally visual exam or x-ray evidence will confirm an infected tooth without any current pain or other symptoms.  While antibiotics may help with the symptoms temporarily they will not control the infection for the long term.

How is a root canal therapy performed?

If you experience any of these symptoms, your dentist will need to take an x-ray and do some tests to determine a diagnosis of the pulp of the offending tooth. If the nerve is determined to be infected, a root canal therapy will be recommended to eliminate the diseased pulp.  Local anesthetic will be placed and the tooth opened to gain access to the pulp chamber and root canals. The injured pulp tissue is removed and the root canal system is thoroughly cleaned, shaped, and disinfected.  This space is then sealed to prevent bacteria from re-entering.  The access opening will also be filled.  This therapy may be completed in one or more visits depending on the complexity of the tooth involved.  You will be able to drive home after your treatment, and you probably will be comfortable returning to your normal routine.  Success for this type of treatment occurs in about 90% of cases.  If your tooth is not amenable to endodontic treatment or the chance of success is unfavorable, an extraction may be recommended.  You will be informed of this at the time of consultation or when a complication becomes evident during treatment.

What happens after treatment?

When your root canal therapy has been completed the tooth may be tender for a few days.  Once it feels back to normal,   the tooth will very likely need to have a crown placed to reinforce the damaged tooth.  Unfortunately, some teeth are lost due to fracture after a root canal therapy if this is not completed.

How much will it cost?

The cost associated with this procedure and a crown can vary depending on factors such as the severity of damage to the affected tooth and which tooth is affected. In general, endodontic treatment is much less expensive than tooth removal and replacement with an artificial tooth.