Root Canal FAQ

Root canals are some of the most common dental treatments done for an excellent reason. A root canal is a relatively simple procedure that can save a damaged tooth and avert the need for a dental implant or bridge. At Gentle Endodontic Specialists, we perform root canals to prevent the loss of your natural tooth while alleviating the pain of a damaged tooth.

You don’t have to live with tooth pain

Root canals are a simple treatment that can save your natural teeth! Contact us today with any questions or to schedule your appointment

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What Is a Root Canal?

You will be given local anesthesia during a root canal to eliminate pain. The endodontist will remove the damaged pulp from the tooth, then clean the canal and seal the area. In some situations, this can be done in one visit. For more complicated or diseased teeth, more treatment may be needed. To learn more about how a root canal is done, please visit our root canal page, where you’ll see a detailed diagram and can watch a video explaining the process.

Why Do I Need a Root Canal?

It may be obvious you need a root canal. For instance, you may be experiencing pain and inflammation caused by an infection of the dental pulp. However, some patients never feel any pain. The problem is that the infection may linger in the pulp, damaging the inside of the tooth and spreading. If you don’t remove the source of the infection, it can flare up later and cause more damage.

What are the Signs That I Need a Root Canal?

If a tooth is broken, decayed, or cracked, the pulp in the tooth’s center may become inflamed or infected. Signs of trouble include swelling around the tooth, sensitivity to hot and cold, tooth pain, and discoloration of the tooth. Sometimes there are no symptoms, and an infected tooth is discovered through a routine dental exam or x-rays.

Is a Root Canal Painful?

Root canals are done in our office, where you will be comfortably reclined and given local anesthesia. If needed, we will also administer nitrous oxide for your comfort. You will not feel any pain during the procedure, although you may feel slight pressure. You may experience mild discomfort for a few days, but this can be minimized with over-the-counter pain medication. You will be able to go home and return to your normal activities after your root canal.

Is It Better to Get a Root Canal or Extraction?

Whenever possible, we try to save your natural tooth. Pulling teeth can shift surrounding teeth and cause deterioration of the jawbone in the diseased tooth’s area. Your natural teeth allow you to eat properly without having to worry about losing a crown or being mindful of a missing tooth.

How Long Does a Root Canal Take?

A routine root canal takes between 30-60 minutes. If the infection is severe or removing the pulp is difficult, it may take up to 90 minutes. Molars generally take longer because they have multiple roots.

How Much Does a Root Canal Cost?

The cost varies depending on how long the procedure takes, the extent of the infection, and other factors. In general, a root canal is less expensive than a tooth extraction. You also don’t have to invest in a bridge or dental implant to replace the missing tooth after it is removed. Most root canals last a lifetime, ensuring you enjoy healthy teeth for years. With a 95% success rate, a root canal is a cost-effective treatment with excellent results.

What are the Signs of a Failed Root Canal?

Very rarely, a root canal may fail. The infection may not be removed entirely, or it may recur. If the crown or filling in the tooth isn’t correctly fitted, the root canal may fail. This can happen weeks, months, or years after the root canal is performed. Some of the signs of a failed root canal include:

  • Swelling around the tooth
  • Pimples or bubbles on the gums
  • Sensitivity when chewing
  • Abscesses near the damaged tooth
  • Swelling of the neck or face

If you experience any of these symptoms after your root canal has healed, please contact our office so we can evaluate the tooth and take action. Keep in mind that the vast majority of patients have no trouble after a root canal.

What Happens If My Root Canal Fails?

Most failed root canals can be corrected. It’s crucial to have an endodontist perform the procedure. They have greater expertise in treating infections, properly removing the pulp, and sealing the tooth. Other options include tooth extraction, but a second root canal is the most common and successful treatment, preserving the tooth’s structure and protecting against future problems.

Are There Alternatives to a Root Canal?

When the dental pulp inside the tooth is compromised, a root canal is usually the best treatment option. Ignoring an infected tooth can lead to serious health consequences and the eventual loss of some or all of your teeth. The alternative is extracting the damaged tooth, but after having the tooth removed, you will need to have a dental implant or bridge crafted and implanted. This requires multiple appointments and a significantly higher cost.

Endodontic surgery involves the affected tooth and the surrounding gums and jawbone. If the damage to your tooth is severe, an apicoectomy, or root-end resection, may be needed. If the bone holding the tooth root in place is infected, an apicoectomy is done to remove the infection.

How Can I Prevent the Need for a Root Canal?

Root canals are needed when the tooth is damaged, leading to an infection in the tooth’s pulp. To avoid infection, take proper care of your teeth, including regular brushing and flossing. You should avoid foods that could chip or crack your teeth. This includes chewing on ice and hard candies. Sugary, sticky foods can linger on your teeth and gums, leading to cavities that result in a damaged pulp and infection. When participating in sports, always protect your teeth with a mouthguard to prevent a broken or cracked tooth. Finally, regular dental checkups are essential to catch any potential problems early on and treat them before they lead to infection and the need for a root canal.