A root canal is a procedure that takes place when the tissues surrounding the roots of a tooth become infected or abscessed. Inside every tooth, there is a collection of living material called the dental pulp, which contains nerves, connective tissues and blood vessels. When the pulp becomes infected, a pocket of pus will begin to form beneath the tooth and can cause mild to severe pain. Some reasons a tooth may become infected include injury, genetics or poor dental hygiene. No matter the cause, a proper root canal treatment is essential to restore a healthy and pain free smile.
Your dentist will ultimately decide if you need a root canal. However, if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may need root canal therapy.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact one of the affiliated dentists at Monarch Dental immediately, as these are signs of a potentially dangerous infection. Our dentists will use x-ray images to make an accurate diagnosis and recommendation for treatment.
When an infection or abscess begins, bacteria will spread throughout the tissue surrounding the roots (the pulp) of the tooth. Left untreated, this bacteria accumulates, eventually forming a pocket of pus, or abscess. The abscess will press on the nerves within the pulp resulting in moderate to severe pain. In severe cases, the pus pocket will not only apply pressure to the nerves, but it will erode away the roots as well. With compromised roots, the tooth becomes less stable and more challenging to salvage.
If you do not treat an abscessed tooth, you will experience an increase in pain and sensitivity as well as a greater risk for other, more serious consequences. You could potentially lose the tooth altogether and need an implant. In severe cases, the infection can spread to the jaw bone, the blood stream, or even the brain, creating a life-threatening situation. An abscessed or infected tooth will not heal on its own; it requires endodontic treatment like a root canal. Because of this, we strongly encourage you to seek immediate treatment for an abscessed tooth.
Most dentists are qualified to perform this procedure. There are special circumstances in which your dentist may refer you to a specialist called an endodontist because, depending on the severity or challenges presented with the infection, your treatment may require a more advanced skill set. Endodontists specialize in the treatment and repair of the pulp, as well as other complex dental issues. They regularly perform root canals and other challenging procedures, and, like your dentist, their primary goal is to save the natural tooth and restore a pain-free smile.
If your dentist determines that you have an infected or abscessed tooth, you will be scheduled for a root canal procedure. Leading up to the root canal, you may be prescribed a round of antibiotics. This medication will aid your body in fighting the infection and may also decrease the severity of the pain prior to the scheduled procedure. Here’s what your root canal treatment will look like.
Your doctor will prep the area by isolating the infected tooth with a plastic drape and may place cotton rolls to keep the area dry of saliva.
Modern medicine has transformed root canal procedures into a less painful and traumatic experience than it used to be. Local anesthetic is administered, numbing the infected pulp as well as the surrounding tissue. These injections tend to be the most uncomfortable part of the procedure.
If you are anxious about the procedure, be sure to speak with your dentist about other options for making you more comfortable during your root canal, such as sedation dentistry. Though root canals have a bad reputation, you may find that the infection itself was far worse than the treatment.
Without insurance, you can expect to pay anywhere from $700 to $1,800, though prices can vary greatly depending on the tooth and the severity of the infection. (Please check with the Monarch Dental location near you for actual costs, as these are only approximate ranges.) The good news is that most dental insurance plans will cover some or all of the cost of a root canal procedure, as it is considered a necessary treatment for an abscessed tooth. If you do not have dental insurance, you can ask your dentist about payment options and plans. Root canal treatment is essential to your overall health and most dentists, including those at Monarch Dental, will be more than happy to work with you to afford the care you need.
You will likely be put on a round of antibiotics to ensure that all of the infection has, in fact, been eliminated. Immediately following the procedure you may experience some minor discomfort. This is to be expected as the tissue under and surrounding the tooth has experienced a bit of trauma. This pain should not be intense or overwhelming; if it is, be sure to contact your dentist, as this could indicate there was a problem during the procedure. You can take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication to relieve any discomfort, and you can use sensitive toothpaste to help with any remaining sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks.
After your root canal procedure it is important to avoid sticky and crunchy foods. These can cause the temporary crown to break off, exposing the tooth. If this happens, call your dentist immediately. As long as the recovery is going routinely, a follow up appointment should be scheduled for one to two weeks after the procedure. Your dentist will assess the tooth and replace the temporary crown with a permanent one.
Regular maintenance is absolutely the most important thing you can do to keep your teeth healthy after a root canal. Brushing and flossing thoroughly at least twice a day will prevent new bacteria from settling into your teeth and gums. You can also protect your newly restored smile by scheduling regular cleanings and exams with your dentists. The American Dental Association recommends seeing your dentist at least two times a year, however your unique oral health smiles may require more, so it is important to discuss the best treatment plan with your dentist.
In the rare occasion that a root canal is not effective and the abscess does reappear, your dentist will help you decide on the next course of action.
Preventing a root canal is often much simpler than getting one. Daily brushing and flossing, a healthy diet low in sugar, and regular dental checkups are the best way to keep your teeth and gums strong, healthy, and free of the bacteria that can cause infected teeth.
However, sometimes, even with the best oral hygiene, your teeth can become infected and root canal treatment is simply unavoidable. If you develop an abscess or infection in your teeth, you must have treatment to resolve it.
At Monarch Dental, your healthy, confident smile is our number one priority, and we work hard to make getting the care you need to preserve it affordable and convenient. From multiple retail locations and flexible scheduling to a variety of payment plans and financing options, Monarch Dental is your partner for professional dental care that fits both your schedule and your budget.
Root canal treatment doesn’t have to be scary or financially out of reach. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of a dental abscess, contact us right away. The sooner we can treat you, the more likely we will be able to fully save and restore the infected tooth. Call Monarch Dental today at 844-800-7645 or visit us online to schedule your appointment!