A root canal is a dental procedure which calls for the removal of the pulp of the tooth, which is the soft center portion. This pulp is comprised of connective tissue, nerves, and blood vessels, all of which contribute to the growth of a tooth. For the most part, a root canal procedure will be performed by an endodontist or a general dentist while the patient is under local anesthesia, so that pain can be numbed.
The purpose of a root canal is to remove damaged or infected pulp, so that the remainder of the tooth can be preserved and healthy. Pulp can become damaged by extensive tooth decay, multiple procedures on the same tooth, a tooth which has become chipped or cracked, or some other type of injury to the tooth. The procedure itself will begin with an anesthetic being delivered to the patient, generally via injection into the gums. This means you will remain awake, but won't experience any pain.
While the affected area is still numb, the dentist will create an opening at the top of the tooth, exposing the pulp. The damaged pulp will be removed, and all canals in the tooth will be cleaned out. After the pulp has been removed, a topical antibiotic will be applied to ensure that no infection takes place. Then a temporary filling will be installed while you're awaiting a more permanent solution for your tooth. In some cases, the damage done to a tooth is so extensive that the tooth simply can't be saved. It's also possible that some of the infected material in the pulp does not get extracted, and remains there to cause additional infection.
When you have a root canal performed, the cost will generally include an exam, an x-ray, and local anesthesia. You can expect to pay somewhere between $600 and $1,400 for the procedure, depending on exactly which tooth requires treatment. Most patients need only a few days to recover from a root canal procedure, although in some rare cases, patients have experienced complications which required one or two weeks to recover from.
Root canal procedures can generally be performed fairly quickly, and the entire process might last somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes. If any complications arise, your dentist might need an hour or more to accomplish the procedure. The actual time necessary to perform a root canal will be determined by the tooth which is being treated, and the number of root canals which are being performed.
Q: Is tooth root canal painful?
A: Most people experience no more pain with a root canal than they do when they're having a tooth filling replaced. This is because the area is generally numbed, and you may also be given an anesthetic so you won't feel any pain.
Q: Is it better to pull a tooth or get a root canal?
A: A root canal actually has a higher success rate than any kind of tooth extraction, because there are virtually no complications associated with the procedure. Root canals simply clean and restore a tooth which has become infected, and there's no need for extraction.
Q: How long do root canals last?
A: When a root canal has been performed, it will generally last between 10 and 15 years, although you can take steps to make it last indefinitely. For instance you could have it crowned, and that would deliver additional durability and strength to the tooth.
Q: Can't afford a root canal - what can I do
A: Usually, when a patient decides not to have a root canal performed, the other best option is to have an extraction performed. Once the tooth has been extracted, it can be replaced with an implant, a partial denture, or a bridge.
Q: How expensive is a root canal?
A: The national average for root canals is approximately $760 for a front tooth, $880 for a premolar, and $1,200 for a molar. Your own cost may differ, based on your geographic location in the country.
Q: Can we eat after a root canal?
A: The best course of action to follow after having a root canal performed is waiting to eat until all the numbness has subsided from your teeth and gums. After this, you should eat soft foods for a while.
Q: Do they put you to sleep for a root canal?
A: If you choose to have a root canal performed with anesthesia delivered by IV, you won't remember anything about the procedure, and you will basically sleep through it. However, a milder local anesthetic can be used, so that the recovery period is shorter.