Endodontic treatment, also referred to as root canal therapy, is a common dental procedure performed on approximately 14 million people every year. Many people are afraid of root canals, but endodontic treatments can relieve pain and save your natural teeth. If performed correctly, the procedure is relatively painless with a quick recovery time.
Deep cavities and injuries can cause an infection that damages the pulp of your tooth. Pulp is the technical name for the network of nerves and blood vessels responsible for the formation of dental tissues. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the bone and tissue surrounding the tooth. Endodontic therapy can eliminate the infection by removing the damaged pulp and sealing the tooth to prevent future infections.
Teeth that require endodontic treatment don’t always cause pain and discomfort. Low-grade infections can go undetected, which is why routine dental screenings are important. However, some patients may experience the following symptoms :
- Pain when chewing or biting.
- Throbbing pain that can lessen or intensify.
- Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures.
- Gum tenderness and swelling.
- Pain when chewing or biting down.
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your dentist for an evaluation. Your dentist can diagnose the problem and determine the appropriate treatment.
Endodontic therapy may be completed in one or more sessions, depending on the severity of the infection. Before starting treatment, the area will be numbed using a local anesthetic. After the anesthesia takes effect, your dentist will drill a small hole that leads to the pulp chamber inside your tooth. Next, the damaged pulp is removed and the root canal system is cleaned and sealed. At this point, your dentist will place a temporary filling or proceed with a permanent restoration. In some cases, your dentist may recommend crown placement. With the nerve and blood supply removed, your tooth may become brittle over time. Crowns are designed to prevent brittle teeth from cracking.
Most people say that endodontic therapy doesn’t hurt more than a regular dental filling. After treatment, most patients can return to their normal daily activities. If you need a root canal, it’s likely that you’re already in serious pain. Many patients report that endodontic therapy actually reduces oral pain and discomfort.
After undergoing endodontic therapy, your teeth may be sensitive for 1 to 2 weeks after treatment. Your gums may be slightly sore or inflamed. It’s best to chew on the opposite side of your mouth for a few days to minimize irritation. Pain or discomfort can usually be controlled using over-the-counter pain medication. In some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed to take care of any remaining infection. Continue following your regular oral hygiene routine. If you experience any problems after endodontic therapy, contact your dentist.
In general, root canal therapy is successful in over 90% of cases. You can make your root canal last longer by completely restoring your tooth with a permanent filling or crown. It’s important to maintain your teeth with a robust dental hygiene program. You can still get a cavity in the restored tooth, even after endodontic treatment. However, you will not feel any pain, because the nerves have been removed. Therefore, it’s important to schedule routine dental screenings to determine if your teeth are healthy.
The cost associated with root canal therapy depends on the severity and location of the infection. In general, endodontic therapy is less expensive that tooth extraction and replacement with a dental implant.