Dental Root Canal

Root canal therapy, also known as endodontic treatment is needed when the pulp ( nerves and blood vessels in the center of the tooth ) becomes infected and inflamed. Root canal therapy ( RCT ) is a procedure to relieve the dental pain. The infection or inflammation in the tooth, can have a variety of causes such as large or deep cavity, crack or chip in the tooth. In some cases if the bite is not right because of either grinding, or a new tooth restoration ( filling or crown ) that was not adjusted properly can damage the nerve. Teeth can have single, double or multirooted ( molar teeth ). If the root canal is hard to accomplish without the microscope because of the shape of the teeth, calcification of the canal, or multiple roots and nerves, the dentist will normally refer the patient to the specialist ( endodontist ) to do the root canal; then the patient returns to the office for the crown.

Root Canal FAQs


Depending on the cause, root canal may or may not be emergency. In most cases, there is an infection that needs to be taken care of immediately. The infection can move towards the heart ( from the lower teeth ); or move towards the sinus ( from upper teeth ).

In general, dental root canal takes one appointment to complete; but if there is a lot of infection, the dentist might take two appointment to complete dental root canal. Also if the roots have sharp curves, or are calcified, the dentist might decide to finish the dental root canal in two appointments.

Depending on the insurance, and the degree of difficulty, dental root canal can cost anywhere from $400 – $1,400. After the dental root canal, the access to the canal is closed with a temporary filling. If there are no more pain or infection, your dentist will remove the temporary, and build up the tooth; then prep the tooth for crown.

Once the dental root canal is finished, no more nutrition gets to the tooth, which causes the tooth to become very dry and brittle. Because of that, you need a crown to protect your dental root canal tooth. In rare cases, like lower small front teeth, you might not have to do a crown if there is not enough tooth structure.

Any untreated infection in the body ( including teeth ) can kill you.

During the dental root canal procedure, you will be numb, and you are not supposed to feel any pain. After the anesthetic wears off, minimal or no pain is the norm.

If you don’t do the root canal, the infection can spread to the surrounding tissue ( gum and bone ). The infection is acidic, and it will damage the bone, creating a canal that connects the infection to your soft tissue ( cheek and under the jaw bone ). This will lead to abcess ( swelling caused by infection ). Remember that any untreated infection in the body ( including teeth ) can kill you.

It is normal to feel mild to moderate pain for a few days after your root canal therapy; but in most cases, you should not have any pain.

In some cases, the root canal is needed because of the expected degradation of the dental nerve; or if the cavity or fracture is too close to a nerve, even if you have no pain. Your dentist can explain to you that why you need a root canal even when you are not experiencing any pain.

Yes it can. If your first root canal fails because either there is infection again; or there is a root fracture, if your first root canal was done by:

  • A general dentist, you need to be refered to an endodontist ( specialist for root canal ) to evaluate or redo the root canal.
  • An endodontist, then you probably need to remove the whole tooth, and either get an implant or a bridge.

Yes, you can go back to work after your root canal; but remember you will be numb 2-3 hours after your appointment. Just be careful eating while your cheek or lips are numb.

You can eat after your root canal; but remember you will be numb 2-3 hours after your appointment. Just be careful eating while your cheek or lips are numb. It will be wise not to chew on the root canaled tooth until the permanent crown is in place.

The success rate of the root canal therapy under normal circumstances are about 95%.

If you take care of your tooth, and do regular checkups, your root canal could last a life time.

After root canal therapy, the tooth might still be sensitive for couple of days. Also it is wise to chew on the other side till the permanent crown has covered your tooth.

Depending on the extent of your cavity and the infection, your dentist will advise you to save a tooth by root canal; or remove the tooth permanently.

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