SERVING MESA, PHOENIX, TEMPE AND SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA
For most people, the thought of a root canal brings images of repeated trips to the dentist and severe discomfort. However, improvements in general dentistry have made almost all root canals relatively pain free, as well as significantly reduce the time it takes to perform them. Also, there are times when a root canal is the best way to save a damaged tooth.
What is a Root Canal?
When a tooth has been severely damaged by decay or has become infected, removing the interior pulp tissue provides a viable alternative to extracting the tooth. While extracted teeth can be replaced with various artificial dental appliances, in the long run it’s much better to maintain your original teeth as long as possible. A root canal can help you keep your tooth for a much longer period leading to much better oral health.
Root Canal Causes
Situations that can lead to a need for a root canal include:
- Extreme decay
- Large fillings
- Repeated work on the same tooth
- Injury or trauma to the tooth
- Infection in the tooth
Symptoms of Tooth Infection
Tooth infection, also known as an abscessed tooth, is most often marked by increased pain in a specific area of the mouth. With time this pain can extend to the jaw and neck, and may even result in difficulties chewing or complete lockjaw. To help avoid more significant issues, it is important to bring persistent tooth pain to the attention of one of our experienced dentists right away. Symptoms of an abscessed tooth may include:
- Increased sensitivity to hot and cold
- A swelling or reddening of the gums
- A pustule on the gums
- Changes in tooth color
- A foul taste in the mouth
- Bad breath that does not respond to brushing
- General discomfort
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is best to call our office right away. Even when not related to a dental abscess these symptoms often indicate a serious problem and should be examined to help prevent future complications.
Treating Tooth Infection with Root Canal Therapy
Tooth infection is treated with root canal therapy. For this procedure, one of our dentists will make a small access hole in the infected tooth, remove debris and bacteria, and seal the tooth to prevent reinfection. While the process can sound frightening, it is no more invasive or uncomfortable than a typical dental filling. However, if you are nervous about root canal therapy, we would be happy to discuss safe and effective sedation dentistry options that can help ensure optimal comfort.
Root Canal Treatment
A root canal becomes necessary when the pulp chamber of a tooth is infected. In a root canal, the interior nerve tissue and pulp is removed as well as any infection or other debris. If you have a severe infection inside the tooth, this area might be filled with medication for a period of time until the infection heals.
After eliminating any existing infection, the resulting empty cavity inside the tooth is filled with a sealing agent. If necessary, Dr. LeSueur or Dr. Dodaro will also place a permanent restoration, such as a crown. Because teeth that require root canals are often severely damaged, it’s not uncommon for a crown to be required. While the root canal itself is actually located within the tooth, the term is typically used in reference to the procedure necessary for removing infection from the pulp chamber. To perform a root canal, one of our experienced dentists will:
- Create a small access hole in the infected tooth
- Use special instruments to remove bacteria and debris
- Flush the pulp chamber with a liquid solution
- Place antibacterial medications inside the chamber
- Seal the access hole
- Cover the tooth with a dental crown
More than one visit may be required to complete the process, particularly if infection is severe. This can be discussed during your root canal treatment consultation.
Does a root canal hurt?
Root canal therapy is no more invasive than a traditional filling, the majority of people who’ve undergone the procedure find that it’s no more painful than a routine filling. Advances in dentistry technology and local anesthesia have improved our ability to perform root canals to the level of painlessness in most cases. But it can be unnerving to those who suffer from dental phobia. If you are made nervous by the idea of a root canal, we would be happy to discuss your sedation dentistry options prior to your procedure. Don’t let unfounded fear of the root canal procedure keep you from pursuing much-needed work that could help you save your tooth.
How do i know if need a root canal?
Warning signs that you may need a root canal include:
- Sensitivity to heat and cold
- Pain and tenderness when chewing or applying pressure
- Tooth discoloration
- Facial swelling
- Swelling and tenderness in nearby gums
- A persistent or recurring pimple on the gums
Should I have a tooth extraction instead?
In most cases, tooth extraction should be a last resort. It is best to save your tooth whenever possible. Often replacing your damaged tooth with a dental implant or dental bridge may be more complex, time consuming and costly in the long run. While dental implants are an effective option to replace missing teeth, you are still better off with your natural tooth. Root canal procedures experience a very high success rate, and your repaired tooth can often last a lifetime.
Root Canal AfterCare
You should be careful chewing or biting with your tooth until Mesa dentists Dr. Scott LeSueur and Dr. Charles Dodaro complete the restoration which normally is a dental crown. It may take several weeks for your dental crown to be created at the lab. Until this time, your tooth will be susceptible to breakage. However, once it is protected by a dental crown, your tooth will be fully functional. It is important to maintain good oral hygiene practices after your root canal to prevent additional decay or damage down the road.
Does Dental Insurance cover Root Canal Cost?
Insurance companies typically cover general dentistry treatments, but may not provide full coverage for restorative or aesthetic services. We believe that finances should never get in the way of smile perfection and take great steps to ensure our patients are provided with the most pleasing and cost-effective treatments available.