When someone says ‘Root Canal’, most people will shrink back in terror. The general consensus among Americans is that root canals are one of the most painful dental procedures and if you need one, you might as well start gritting your teeth now. Thankfully, due to modern dental advancements, the root canals your grandparents received are not the same today. Not only have there been many strides in sedation and pain management, but the procedure itself has gotten much simpler.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal is a procedure used to eliminate the infection from a diseased tooth or the surrounding gums. When a tooth becomes infected, it can spread quickly and antibiotics may not be enough. In this case, a dentist will perform a root canal. The process for this includes removing the infected ‘pulp’ (or root) from the tooth, cleaning and disinfecting the tooth itself, and then filling the tooth (similar to a cavity filling).
When Would I Need a Root Canal?
There are a few ways you will be alerted to whether or not you need a root canal. Some are more obvious than others, such as a severe tooth infection. Other symptoms may need to be diagnosed by a dentist. Other less obvious reasons that may indicate you need a root canal are:
- Pain when eating.
- ‘Pimple’-like bumps on your gums.
- Damaged teeth from an injury – such as a cracked or broken tooth. These teeth become more susceptible to infection.
- Severe sensitivity to hot or cold.
- Bleeding gums or painful brushing.
- Tooth decay or darkening of the gums.
How Long Does a Root Canal Take?
Depending on the severity of the infection, a root canal may take a few hours. If the tooth is not severely damaged, your dentist may be able to perform the root canal and finish the filling in as little as 2 hours. More severe cases may take more than one dental appointment.
Does a Root Canal Hurt?
There is some discomfort associated with a root canal, but again, it is nothing like what it used to be! Ask your dentist about their pain management options. If you are extra anxious, have a conversation with your dental team about sedation.
Is a Root Canal Expensive?
There are a lot of variables when it comes to the cost of a root canal. The first would be the severity of the infection or situation. The second is which tooth needs the root canal. Molars typically cost more. One fortunate thing about a root canal is that it can be less expensive than a tooth extraction because it will not need to be followed up with an implant or bridge.
How Can I Prevent a Root Canal?
The best way to prevent a root canal is to brush your teeth every day and stay current with your dentist by scheduling an appointment with them twice every year. Some people may be more susceptible to tooth infections than others, though. In this case, it is important to communicate with your dentist about your family history or any symptoms that arise suddenly.
Overall, a root canal sounds scary but it’s a procedure that is handled many times by dental professionals. At Greeley Dental Health, we welcome questions regarding a patient’s dental treatment. If you think you may need a root canal or are suffering from tooth pain or an infection, schedule an appointment today!