When you hear the words “root canal” you likely cringe in fear, remembering horror stories from friends and relatives who underwent the procedure years (or even decades) ago. But modern root canal therapy is much less invasive, much more comfortable, and much more effective. In fact, a single visit to our Westwood dentist office can often immediately alleviate pain, swelling, and infection of a damaged tooth and the surrounding gums. And, with modern tools and technology, you can be in and out quickly with little to no pain, discomfort, or anxiety.
What is a Root Canal?
Root canal therapy is a very common procedure. It has a reputation of being undesirable and painful. But when done properly it is actually painless. Every tooth in your mouth is composed of a crown and a root. When a cavity or bacteria penetrates the tooth, the root and its nerves become irritated. As a result, the bacteria within the pulp cavity needs to be removed and cleaned in order to restore the tooth to its healthy state. Following the procedure, the tooth is fragile and consequently is restored with the natural crown for a lifetime of durability. Root canals have a success rate of 95% or greater. Most root canal are diagnosed by patients’ sensitivities to a specific tooth. Be sure to consult your dentist any symptoms or discomfort occur.
Technically speaking, what most patients call a “root canal” is actually a procedure called root canal therapy. This type of treatment is deemed necessary when the nerve of a tooth is damaged. This damage can be caused by:
- Tooth decay
- Bacterial infection
- Loss of blood flow (usually caused by facial trauma)
- Natural deformity
In such cases it may become necessary to perform root canal therapy in order to preserve the tooth and prevent further damage. This procedure also reduces pain and swelling, and clears out any infection hiding in the channel (or canal) in which the nerve resides.
The only other option is allowing the tooth to die and/or extracting it—either of which will greatly impact the functionality of your bite and the beauty of your smile.
How is Root Canal Therapy Done?
A dentist will use medical imaging (most often an x-ray) to determine if a root canal procedure is necessary. If it is, the procedure begins with the dentist drilling a small hole through the hard enamel surface of the tooth in order to gain access to the inside.
The dentist will then remove the pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth) and nerves inside the root canal with a series of medical devices. The process also removes decay and bacteria as well.
Once all of the damaged organic material is removed, the void is filled with medication and a dental filler to prevent re-infection and give the tooth structural stability. The small hole drilled to gain access to the interior of the tooth is then filled. In some instances, a crown is recommended to prevent potential breakage.
Primary root canal treatments have high success rates. However, a small percentage of patients may see a renewal of symptoms which will necessitate additional root canal therapies or removal of the tooth.
Do You Need a Root Canal?
Generally, dental imaging is the only way to tell if the root of a tooth has been compromised but there are several exterior symptoms that are associated with ailments which may necessitate a root canal. If you have any of the following symptoms, your dentist may suggest a root canal in order to alleviate them.
- A pimple-like abscess below the gum line
- Sensitivity to hot and cold
- Severe toothache
- Swelling and/or tenderness around one tooth
Root Canal Results
Modern root canal therapies are much more patient-friendly than such procedures in the past. Modern technology has created:
- Smaller dental tools
- More effective pain management medications
- Stronger dental repair materials
- Better dental imaging
And, because modern procedures are more effective, the necessity for re-treatment or additional procedures has been minimized.
All of these advancements contribute to much less pain and discomfort for root canal therapy patients. If you’re exceptionally nervous about the procedure, Westwood Village Smiles even offers sedation dentistry. Simply relax in the chair and get necessary dental repairs made without anxiety.
How Much Does Root Canal Therapy Cost?
The cost of root canal therapy varies greatly. Indeed, the total dollar amount will depend on a number of factors specific to each patient and each procedure including:
- Which tooth is involved
- The extent to which the tooth is damaged
- If one or more appointment is necessary
- Whether a specialist (endodontist) is needed
If you need root canal therapy expect to pay between $300 and $1,500. That may seem like a lot but extracting a single damaged tooth can cost as much as $650 and will leave patients with a gap in their natural smile.
Keep in mind that root canal therapy is often a permanent solution to tooth pain, swelling, and infection. That one price is a small to pay when for a permanent solution.
Still worried about finances? Westwood Village Smiles offers a wide array of payment options including CareCredit Financing so you can get necessary dental work done without worrying about the cost.
Do You Need a Root Canal?
Don’t let fear keep you from getting much-needed dental work done. Call us at (310) 254-9355 or schedule an appointment online to speak with our expert dentists and learn just how pain-free modern root canal therapy can be.