A root canal may sound scary, but many modern medical advancements allow dentists and endodontists to perform them much more quickly and painlessly. Root canal treatments are also incredibly important. They’re often the only viable alternative to having a tooth extracted, meaning that they will prolong the use of your tooth.

What are Root Canals?

A root canal procedure is used to remove and clean tooth pulp that is infected or inflamed. This could be caused by an untreated dental cavity, a cracked tooth, or even genetics.

The conditions that necessitate a root canal all have one thing in common, they’re all painful and only get worse over time. Watch for the common signs a root canal might be needed, especially in children.

If you or a child in your care is experiencing pain or sensitivity in a tooth, it’s best to see your dentist immediately. It’s more likely that you’ll just need a filling. But if you wait too long, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll need a root canal or tooth extraction.

Why Root Canals are Important

Simply put, a root canal will help you avoid the loss of your tooth. This procedure has a 97% success rate according to research by AAE, the American Association of Endodontists. There are a few reasons why you should always get a root canal when your dentist says you need one.

  • Root canals can save your tooth. If your tooth is infected, the pulp inside the tooth dies. Without treatment, the infection can spread to the bone and surrounding tissues, eventually leading to tooth loss. Root canals can prevent this by removing the infected pulp and sealing off the tooth so the infection cannot spread.
  • Root canals are very successful procedures. The success rate for root canals is 97%. This means that there is an excellent chance that your tooth will be successfully treated with a root canal.
  • Root canals can relieve your pain. If you have an infected tooth, you may be experiencing a great deal of pain. Root canals can remove the infected pulp and relieve the pain that you are experiencing.
  • Root canals can help you avoid other dental procedures. If you do not get a root canal when you need one, the infection can spread, and you may eventually need to have the tooth extracted. This is a much more invasive and expensive procedure than a root canal.
  • The alternative is a dental implant. Dental implants are artificial replacements for teeth that have been extracted. This is typically a much higher cost than a root canal, involves surgical attachment to the jawbone, and has a much longer recovery period.

Are There Downsides to Root Canals?

There are generally no downsides to a root canal procedure compared with alternatives. Modern dental techniques mean that there is very little pain associated with the procedure. Most people report only minor discomfort during treatment. Although soreness is expected afterward, it can be easily managed with over-the-counter pain medication.

The only potential downside to getting a root canal is the cost. Root canals can be expensive and are often only partially covered by insurance. While they are often less costly than extraction and a dental implant, some people choose to simply get an extraction and live without the tooth.

What to Expect During a Root Canal Procedure

Root canals are not nearly as scary as they may seem. The procedure is relatively straightforward. Here’s what you can expect during a root canal procedure:

  • First, your dentist will numb the area around the tooth so that you will not feel any pain.
  • Next, your dentist will open the tooth so the pulp can be removed.
  • Then, your dentist will remove the pulp from the tooth.
  • After the pulp has been removed, your dentist will clean and disinfect the inside of the tooth.
  • Finally, your dentist will fill the tooth and seal it.

After the procedure, you may experience some sensitivity in the tooth. This is normal and should go away within a few days. If the sensitivity persists, be sure to see your dentist.

How Long will the Procedure Take?

Root canals are not complicated procedures; they can usually be completed in one or two visits to the dentist. The length of the procedure will depend on the severity of the infection and the number of teeth being treated. In most cases, the procedure can be completed in one visit.

What Kind of Aftercare is Required?

Aftercare for a root canal is relatively simple. You will need to take care of the tooth treated and ensure it is clean and free of infection. Be sure to brush, floss regularly, and see your dentist for regular checkups.

How Much will the Procedure Cost?

The average cost of a root canal procedure ranges from $600 to $1200. The average dental insurance policy will cover between 50% and 80% of that cost. The factors in the cost of a root canal include the type of tooth or teeth that need treatment, the severity of the infection, and your insurance coverage.

If your doctor recommends a root canal, do it. In most cases, your options are to get the root canal, have the tooth extracted, or wait until the pain is bad enough to make one of the first two choices. Modern root canals are done more quickly and with much less pain. Schedule an appointment with your dentist and get started on your treatment. You’ll be glad you did.