“It seems like you might need a root canal.”
Have you ever heard that phrase before?
You might be thinking:
“I don’t feel any pain. I’ll just wait until my tooth starts hurting, and then I’ll get a root canal.”
That sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?
Well, it’s not!
The longer you delay getting a root canal, the higher the chances of needing an emergency procedure. This will not only cause you more pain but also cost you more money.
But don’t worry! In this blog post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about root canals, including commonly asked questions, ways to find relief during an emergency root canal, and tips on avoiding them altogether.
Are Root Canals Considered Dental Emergencies?
In short, yes!
A root canal is necessary when an infected tooth is dying. The more you delay treatment, the higher the chances that the tooth will die completely. In such cases, your dentist will have to extract the dead tooth to prevent further infection.
Moreover, the longer you wait, the more pain you will experience. In fact, emergency root canals are responsible for over 400,000 hospital visits!
When Do I Need a Root Canal?
Root canal therapy is required when a tooth’s damage, decay, or infection spreads from the enamel to the tooth pulp (the nerve). In such cases, a dentist or endodontist needs to remove the infection through a root canal.
If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, chances are high that you will need a root canal:
- Severe toothache when chewing or biting down
- Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
- Discoloration of the tooth (darkening)
- Swelling or tender gums near the infected tooth
- Pimples on the gums
However, sometimes these symptoms might not be present, leading people to believe that they can postpone treatment. But this puts their oral and overall wellness at risk.
How to Avoid Getting a Root Canal (in the first place)
Visiting your local dentist for regular checkups, including comprehensive exams and hygiene cleanings, every six months is crucial.
During these visits, your dentist examines your teeth for any signs of decay or infection. If any issues are detected, they can be addressed immediately before they worsen.
Here’s the deal:
Being proactive about your oral health will save you time and money in the long run.
Some patients have shared stories of waiting to get a root canal until they experienced excruciating pain. And guess what happened?
They ended up with unbearable pain and a significantly higher bill.
So, if your dentist recommends a root canal, don’t wait until you’re in pain. Take care of it right away!
How to Find Relief (for the meantime) if You Need a Root Canal
If you’re experiencing tooth pain or sensitivity and you can’t get immediate dental attention, there are a few at-home remedies that can help alleviate the pain:
- Place ice over the sore or tender area
- Apply a hot pack to the side of your jaw
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as Advil or Tylenol
- Rinse your mouth with a combination of warm water and salt
- Soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and gently apply it to the infected tooth
Are Root Canals Safe?
Absolutely! In fact, root canal procedures have a high success rate, with 25 million endodontic procedures performed successfully every year. And the best part is, they can last a lifetime without causing any painful symptoms.
Why are they so successful?
Advancements in dentistry and technology have made root canals virtually painless. Dentists have access to safe materials and advanced techniques that ensure the success of the procedure.
“I’ve Heard Root Canals Cause Cancer. Is That True?”
No, root canals do not cause cancer.
This myth originated from research conducted by Dr. Weston A. Price, who claimed that harmful bacteria left behind after a root canal could leak and harm a person’s overall health. However, decades of research have refuted these findings, according to the American Association of Endodontists.
In their words:
“This false claim was based on long-debunked and poorly designed research conducted nearly a century ago, long before modern medicine understood the causes of many diseases. There is no valid, scientific evidence linking root canal treatment to disease elsewhere in the body.”
How to Increase Your Success Rate with Root Canals
The answer is simple: Complete your treatment as soon as possible!
Delaying treatment only worsens the infected tooth, making root canal therapy more complicated and increasing the risk of complications.
What If Your Root Canal Therapy Fails?
In some cases, root canal therapy may not be successful, and complications may arise. These can include:
- Additional problem areas
- Undetected cracks in the tooth root
- Defective materials
If you experience any of these issues, it’s important to contact your dentist immediately. They will examine the problem and may need to repeat the procedure or consider alternative dental restoration options, such as extractions, dental implants, or dental bridges.
Are Root Canals Painful?
Root canals have gained a reputation for being painful, but that’s far from the truth.
Advancements in dentistry and technology have made root canals virtually painless. Here’s how the procedure works:
- Your dentist or endodontist administers anesthesia, similar to what you would receive for a dental filling, to ensure you don’t feel any pain during the procedure.
- They remove the infected pulp and harmful bacteria from the tooth.
- The inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed with a safe and durable material.
- Finally, your dentist restores the tooth’s function with a porcelain crown.
If you still feel anxious about the procedure being painful, you can always ask your dentist about sedation dentistry options. Depending on the level of sedation, you can feel completely relaxed and at ease throughout the entire procedure, and you may not even remember it afterward.
How to Manage Post-op Pain at Home
Since root canals are surgical procedures, it’s common to experience some discomfort during the healing process. However, there are ways to manage the pain and make your recovery more comfortable:
- Follow your dentist or endodontist’s instructions carefully.
- Take over-the-counter pain medication, such as Advil, Tylenol, or ibuprofen.
- Avoid chewing or putting pressure on the affected tooth until you receive your final restoration.
- Maintain your regular oral hygiene routine, including brushing, flossing, and regular check-up visits with your dentist.
Who Performs Root Canals?
Root canals can be performed by two healthcare providers: dentists and endodontists.
An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in saving teeth and treating dental pulp issues. However, it’s not uncommon for general dentists to perform root canals along with other dental procedures.
How to Find Out if Your Dentist Performs Root Canals
Not all general dentists are equally skilled in performing root canals. Dentists who can perform root canals have received extensive training and hands-on experience in the procedure.
When discussing root canals with your dentist, make sure to ask the following questions:
- What are your credentials for performing root canals?
- How many hours of continuing education do you take to perform root canal therapy?
- Is a root canal necessary in my case?
- What are the consequences of not getting a root canal?
- How predictable is the outcome of the treatment?
- Should I consider having this done by a specialist, or can you do an equally good job?
Your dentist will provide honest and truthful answers. If they are unable to perform the root canal, they may have professional relationships with respected endodontists in your area.
Dr. Bruno da Costa, a dentist in Beaverton, consistently pursues continuing education to perform root canal therapy in his office. If you need assistance in finding a specialist for root canals, feel free to call Harmony Dental at 503-639-6900.
How Much Do Root Canals Cost?
The cost of a root canal can vary depending on factors such as the complexity of the infection and the patient’s situation. Here are the national average costs for root canals:
- Front teeth: $300 – $1,500
- Bicuspids: $400 – $1,800
- Molars: $500 – $2,000
Please note that these costs represent the average expenses for root canals nationwide and may not reflect the dental costs at Harmony Dental.
Will Dental Insurance Cover the Cost of a Root Canal?
Usually, dental insurance covers a portion of the root canal treatment cost, typically around 50-90% of the procedure. However, coverage may vary depending on your insurance provider.
How Can You Get a Root Canal Without Dental Insurance?
Approximately 74 million Americans do not have dental insurance. Dentists have recognized this and have found ways to provide affordable dental care to those without insurance.
Investing in your oral health is essential, as neglecting it can lead to more significant expenses in the long run. Talk to your dentist about financing options or inquire if they have an in-house savings plan to make dental care affordable.
At Harmony Dental, considered one of the best dentists in Beaverton, we want all our patients to have access to high-quality dental care. That’s why we are flexible regarding insurance and financing:
- We accept most dental insurance plans.
- We offer financing options and accept CareCredit.
Think You Need a Root Canal? Take Action Now!
You now have all the essential information about root canals. It’s time to reach out to your dentist and schedule a visit!
At Harmony Dental, our dentist in Beaverton, OR, is dedicated to providing high-quality dentistry to patients from Beaverton, Tigard, Portland, Cedar Hills, Lake Oswego, Raleigh Hills, Sherwood, Garden Hom, Tualatin, and West Slope.
If you have any questions about root canals or anything else, don’t hesitate to contact our office. We offer free consultations and welcome second opinions.
- Call 503-639-6900
- Email [email protected]
- Visit our New Patients Center page