Root canals are the boogeyman of the dental world, and have long garnered a reputation as dangerous and painful. There are plenty of common myths about root canals, but the truth is, root canals are simple, common procedures that have a great success rate in helping patients keep their teeth—even ones that have been subject to advanced decay! If your dentist or endodontist has told you that you might need a root canal, don’t worry. Let’s take a look at what exactly the procedure is, and what some of the common causes of root canals are.

What’s a Root Canal?

Sometimes, bacteria can penetrate the hard outer layer of your teeth (called the enamel) and cause irritation and decay deep inside the tooth. A root canal is a procedure that treats the pulp (the spongy inner material of your teeth that houses the tooth’s blood supply and nerve) and root of your teeth if they become infected.

When this happens, the infected pulp can cause irritation and pressure on the nerve, causing pain, sensitivity to hot and cold, and potential worsening of the infection in the tooth and surrounding tissues. Root canal treatment is used to remove this damaged pulp and stop the infection, saving the patient’s natural tooth with minimal pain and discomfort. During a root canal, an endodontist will use a drill to access the tooth’s inner pulp and remove it. Afterward, the resulting cavity is filled with a rubbery material and capped off with a crown. Crowns are used because treated teeth will sometimes darken and discolor. Crowns can be tinted to match your natural teeth, so the result of your root canal is completely natural looking!

What Are Some Symptoms That Indicate You May Need Root Canal Treatment?

The need for a root canal can sometimes be difficult to distinguish from other types of tooth pain, but there are a few specific symptoms to look for.

Tooth pain that doesn’t go away: Many dental problems can cause tooth pain. If you have pain deep in your tooth, you may need root canal therapy. Discomfort may also radiate to your jaw, face, or other teeth.

Sensitivity to heat and cold: If you have lingering pain that lasts for more than a few seconds after eating or drinking something hot or cold, it can be a sign you may need a root canal.

Swollen gums or jaw: Infected teeth may cause pus to collect in the gums or around the jaw, resulting in swelling.

Abscess on the gums: Pus from an infected tooth may create a boil or abscess on the gum itself. This abscess may drain and have a foul smell or taste.

Tooth darkening: When the pulp is infected, it can interfere with the blood supply and cause the tooth to darken.

Pain when pressure is applied: If you have pain when you eat or touch your tooth, it could mean the nerves around the pulp are damaged.

How to Prepare for a Root Canal Treatment?

If you’ve been experiencing any of these symptoms and your endodontist has diagnosed your need for a root canal, all that’s left is to show up for your appointment! While the operation is fairly simple and requires minimal preparation on your part, there are a few things you can do to get ready. Depending on the type of sedation you receive, you may need someone to drive you home from your procedure as the lasting effects may take a few hours to wear off. Root canal treatments themselves take no longer than an hour to complete. Tell your endodontist about any other medication you are on beforehand, and make arrangements with your job if necessary to have either the time for your procedure and potentially the rest of the day excused from work.

Dealing With Root Canal Pain

Root canals have an undeservedly bad reputation for being exceptionally painful—but this isn’t the case. Most likely, these myths came from dental practices of previous generations that used less advanced equipment, techniques, and medication than are currently available. Most patients report immediate relief of the pain caused by infection directly after having a root canal. After a root canal, you may have some discomfort as the initial numbing agent wears off, but this can usually be managed with some over-the-counter pain medication and some ice to relieve any swelling or soreness. Any root canal pain should recede completely after a couple of days, but be sure to tell your endodontist if you have persistent pain and sensitivity that lasts over a week after your appointment.

How Much Does a Root Canal Cost?

Price is almost always a concern for patients who’ve been told they need dental treatment, and the cost of a root canal is no different. It can be challenging to pinpoint the exact price you’ll pay for your procedure, but it’s certain that a root canal cost with insurance is almost certainly much greater than a root canal cost without insurance. It’s also almost always true that root canal price is more expensive than that of a filling, meaning that preventive measures that stop a cavity before it infects the pulp of your teeth can save you money in the long term.

Final Thoughts

Root canals have received a bad reputation over the years, but Advanced Endodontics of Nevada is ready to help our patients understand that—far from being dangerous or painful—root canals are safe, effective procedures designed to relieve your pain and help you get your smile back. Call or visit our clinic today and let us walk you through the root canal procedure, from initial consultation to healing and recovery. Don’t wait! Call today.