Everything You Need to Know about Root Canals

Root canals — the scariest, most painful part of going to the dentist, right? Wrong! Contrary to popular belief, a root canal is no more painful than getting a tooth filled. Root Canal Awareness Week is held from March 30 to April 5 to share the facts about root canal treatment and the safety of endodontics, which is the study and treatment of the dental pulp.

What is a root canal?

A root canal is a quick procedure carried out in the office, that can relieve pain and save your natural tooth. Millions of people get root canals each year in order to relieve pain. It’s important to understand the anatomy of the tooth in order to understand root canals. The tooth has a hard layer called dentin inside of it as well as a soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp has blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue.

During a root canal, the endodontist will remove the pulp, which is usually inflamed or infected and carefully clean and shape inside the root canal and then seal it. A crown will be placed on the tooth by your dentist at another visit to help protect it from fracturing and restore it. It will then function like your other teeth.

What can I expect during a root canal?

There are a number of steps that take place during a root canal, which can occur over multiple visits:

  1. X-ray: your dentist will take x-rays to show where there is decay
  2. Anesthesia: you will have local anesthesia for the affected tooth.
  3. Pulpectomy: an opening is made and the diseased tooth pulp is removed.
  4. Filling: the roots that have been opened are filled with material and then sealed off with cement.

Why do I need a root canal?

Root canal treatment is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or diseased. This can be caused by:

  • A deep cavity
  • A cracked tooth
  • Injury to the tooth
  • Multiple dental procedures

What is the recovery from a root canal like?

It can take one to three visits to complete a root canal, which is a relatively painless procedure. You may have some numbness in the area for a few days and some tenderness in the jaw. You can take over-the-counter pain medications to relieve any pain. Your tooth may feel slightly different than your other teeth for some time.

What are the risks of getting a root canal?

A tooth that has undergone a root canal is still subject to getting cavities and other dental problems.

Are there alternatives to a root canal?

Saving your natural teeth is the best option. Nothing can replace your natural tooth so it’s a good idea to avoid extraction, if possible.

How much does a root canal cost?

Root canal costs vary from state to state and from dentist to dentist. We suggest consulting with your dentist and endodontist about the price. Most insurance plans cover 50 to 80% of the cost of a root canal.

People who have had root canals can chew, eat normal foods and maintain their smiles for life. It’s a simple procedure with big benefits — it can save your tooth and your smile.

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Posted In: Dental Procedures