What is a root canal?

A root canal is a procedure that is done when the tooth breaks into the nerve or decay reaches the nerve. This involves removing the nerve of the tooth while still preserving the tooth. After the procedure, your tooth will still feel like a tooth as it still has the pressure sensor ligament on the outside. However, your tooth will no longer have hot or cold sensitivity and it will no longer have a nerve in it.

When are root canals necessary?

Root canals are necessary when the tooth breaks into the nerve or a cavity reaches the nerve. At this point, you have two options: either to remove the tooth or to save the tooth through a root canal procedure. I also do extractions and implants, but most of my patients want to save their teeth. If decay reaches the nerve during the procedure or if there is pain, the next step would be to perform a root canal. For a back tooth, a crown would be necessary after the root canal. I do have a same-day crown machine in my office, so you can come in in pain and leave with your tooth fixed, which is a major benefit for most people.

Is a root canal painful?

I will also never work on you in my office if you are not fully numb. If you’re nervous about the procedure, we also offer laughing gas to take the edge off, but you’re not going to have any pain during the procedure, and I will check in with you multiple times to ensure that. Most of my patient say that they don’t know what they were so worried about after the procedure.

How is the procedure for a root canal?

Thanks to modern instrumentation, root canals can be performed safely, predictably, effectively, and quickly. The rotary instrumentation used today efficiently cleans out the nerve of the tooth. With a 3D x-ray machine, the tooth can be viewed in slices to understand how the nerve is running through the tooth and how to remove it even before starting the procedure.

What are the signs that a root canal might be needed?

The two most common signs that a root canal might be needed are lingering pain to cold or spontaneous throbbing pain. After the nerve dies, sometimes it might abscess, get infected, you might see a bubble in the gum, or it might have a pressure pain on it, but it might not have hot or cold sensitivity anymore.

What happens after a root canal?

After a root canal and a crown, it's still your tooth, so it could still get a cavity, break or have other problems down the road. If that's a concern to you, it can be replaced with an implant.

What's the post-operative recovery like after a root canal?

After the numbness wears off, it might be a bit tender or feel a little bruised. The tooth might be slightly tender and it might take a couple of days to a couple of weeks to settle. If it goes past that, it's recommended to get in touch with your dentist who may prescribe an antibiotic or a steroid to settle it down, or adjust the bite.

Root canal versus implants, which is better?

Both root canals and implants have their own advantages and disadvantages. I will go over all these in your specific situation and let you know what I would recommend if it were my tooth or a family member's tooth. Ultimately, I just want you to make an informed decision.

How much does a root canal cost?

The cost of a root canal depends on your insurance and the tooth that needs the procedure. Fees are often set by the insurance. So, for a root canal and a crown, you're probably looking at a total cost in the range of two to three thousand dollars. However, if you have 80% coverage on the root canal, and it's a front tooth that doesn't need a crown, the cost might just be a few hundred dollars. It could even be 100% covered.