Everything You Need to Know about Root Canals
Ask most people what they know about root canals and they will give you a few vague descriptions. But ask these same people how they feel about root canals, and they will paint an anxious picture for you. Unfortunately, a lot of people have misconceptions about what a root canal involves and how extreme the procedure is. Root canals aren’t nearly as bad as you expect. Plus, for the issues that they are used to treat they are the preferred treatment method for both doctor and patient.
The best thing about root canals is that they preserve the natural tooth. Even if a patient has a serious infection in the roots or pulp of a tooth, it is possible to remove the problem area and restore the tooth to full health and function. The procedure does not take especially long. And the recovery period is not especially difficult. To help you overcome your fear of root canals and feel confident about getting the medical care your teeth require, we have put together a guide to root canals. Read on to get a lot of your questions answered. If and when root canals become necessary for you, rely on the dentists at Florida Dental Rejuvenation.
Who Performs Root Canals?
You may think it’s dentists, or maybe generalized oral surgeons. In fact, the vast majority of root canals are performed by doctors called endodontists. These doctors specialize in issues that impact the pulp and roots of the tooth. An endodontist will examine your teeth and symptoms, diagnose whatever problem ails you, and recommend root canals if they are the preferred method of treatment. These dentists will also perform the procedure and work with you during the follow-up to ensure you are healing properly. You may never need an endodontist. But when you do, you will be glad for their experience and expertise.
What are Root Canals?
When a tooth becomes infected, the infection tends to reside in the root or pulp of the tooth. This part of the tooth is underneath layers of enamel and typically below the gum line. As a result, you will probably feel the infection before you ever notice signs of it.
It is essential to resolve the infection as quickly as possible, or it could cause problems in the rest of your mouth, and even the rest of your body. In order to get rid of all the infected material, it’s necessary to perform root canals.
Essentially this procedure involves drilling into the tooth and then removing all the parts of the roots and pulp that are infected. Once the problem material is gone the cavity is shaped and expanded. Finally, a filler and sealant are applied so that a new infection cannot take hold.
After the procedure is finished, the tooth is as good as new. And since it did not have to be replaced with a false tooth, it fits in naturally with your smile. A tooth infection can have serious consequences. Root canals are the very best way to avoid these problems.
Do Root Canals Hurt?
A lot of the pain that people associate with is caused by the infection rather than the procedure itself. While it is true that the procedure can be somewhat uncomfortable and produce a fair amount of anxiety, it is inaccurate to call it painful. The first step is to apply a local anesthesia that numbs the affected tooth and all the tissue around it. You will likely be awake while the procedure is being performed, but it is unlikely that you will experience any acute pain.
After your treatment is done, the area around the tooth may be sensitive. And for some time after that, it could feel slightly different from your other teeth. But you should not expect to be in agony after your procedure or even to experience any difficulty sleeping or working. Root canals may have a bad reputation, but thanks to the marvel of modern medicine this is a relatively routine and painless procedure.
Do I Need A Root Canal?
Sometimes the signs that indicate you need root canals are obvious. Other times they are more subtle. And sometimes they are impossible to notice at all. That is part of why it’s so important to see a dentist regularly. At your checkups, you will receive x-rays that reveal problems with the roots of your teeth. You may not feel it, but your doctor will spot it and recommend that you see an endodontist. However, it is always better to pursue diagnosis and treatment sooner rather than later. Keep your eyes out for these signs you may need root canals.
- You experience severe pain every time you chew or use your teeth and jaw to apply pressure. Tooth pain can be caused by many things. But if there is an infection in the pulp or roots of your tooth it will almost always lead to an unfamiliar sensation of pain.
- You notice that your teeth have become sensitive to hot or cold temperatures you come into contact with while eating food or drinking beverages. This sensitivity will probably be acute while the food/drink is in your mouth, but then linger even after your mouth has returned to a normal temperature.
- You have a tooth that begins to discolor suddenly. This is a clear sign that something is wrong with the core of your tooth. Mild discoloration is natural and happens to most teeth over time. It is only if the discoloration is swift and significant that you should be concerned.
- You have swelling or tenderness in your gums. This is another reliable indicator of infection. You will probably notice a fullness to your cheeks and gums and feel a difference inside your mouth as well.
- You find that pimples or abscesses break out in your mouth over and over again. This is a common reaction from the sensitive tissue of the gums to the presence of an infection. In addition to the pimples you will probably notice a bad taste in your mouth that is difficult or even impossible to get rid of.
These symptoms do not guarantee that root canals will be necessary. A less invasive treatment may be appropriate. Conversely, a more invasive treatment could prove to be your only option. The important thing is to seek out medical attention as soon as you notice one or more of these symptoms.
What is the Cost of Root Canals?
That depends on a lot of factors – the tooth that is infected, the type of doctor who performs your procedure, and the extent of the damage/treatment. Keep in mind that most major dental insurance plans cover the cost of root canals. And while the out-of-pocket costs can be significant, root canals performed now can save you a lot of time, money, and pain down the road. No one looks forward to the experience or expense of root canals. But when something as important as the health of your smile is at stake, they are worth it.
Are there Alternative to Root Canals?
There are, but they are not better alternatives. If there is an infection in your mouth it needs to be treated and cured immediately. Otherwise, it will only get worse, spread, and put your health in jeopardy. The only way to get rid of the infection without relying on root canals is to remove the tooth entirely.
There are advantages to this kind of all-in approach. But patients must be aware that tooth extraction and replacement are more expensive, more painful, and more time consuming. There is also a lot more that can go wrong. If you are dreading the thought of getting root canals, just be glad you have options.
How to Prepare for Root Canals
More than 15 million root canals are performed every year in the United States. If you are one of the patient’s schedules to undergo this procedure there are some things you can do to prepare mentally and physically:
- Ask Questions – Don’t let uncertainty and confusion dominate the experience. Ask the doctors you are working with to fully explain your treatment and recovery.
- Follow Instructions – You doctor will likely provide you with instructions for what you should and should not do in advance of your procedure. Follow these instruction to the letter.
- Contact Your Insurance – If you expect to have your insurance provider cover the cost of your root canals, make contact with them in advance to ensure that payment is part of your plan.
- Plan for Recovery – It is smart to take it easy for a few days after your root canals. Make accommodations with friends, family, and work so that you can make the most of your recovery period.
If you suspect that you may need root canals, your best bet is to see a doctor as soon as you can. Don’t let your decision be ruled by hesitation or anxiety. Get the information, attention, and care you are looking for by contacting Florida Dental Rejuvenation at 561-370-6688.