Anytime a tooth sustains an injury due to decay or a fracture, there is always the possibility that the tooth will need future root canal therapy. When a patient is experiencing constant pain and increased dental sensitivity, it is likely the tooth has sustained an irreversible pulpitis or has developed an abscess. An irreversible pulpitis is inflamed dental pulp or nerve tissue within a tooth that often leads to an abscess or a painful infection that occurs at the apex of the root.
The procedure will start with anesthetic to ensure a comfortable visit. Your doctor will work with an assistant to isolate your tooth using a dental dam to prevent contamination of the internal portion of the tooth. A high-speed drill will be used for a moment to open the biting surface of the tooth so the doctor can gain access to the internal area, or pulp chamber.
A series of small dental files will be used to remove the damaged, necrotic pulp tissue from within the tooth. Once the pulp has been completely removed, the root canals will be thoroughly irrigated with a sterile cleansing agent and filled with a permanent material called gutta percha. Gutta percha is a rubber based filling material that will occupy the space where the pulp was. A soft, temporary material will be placed on the biting surface of the tooth, and you will be required to return to see your dentist for the next step; preparing the tooth for a crown.
Often, the only other option, once a tooth has developed irreversible pulpitis or a periapical abscess, is to extract or pull the tooth. This procedure will allow you to keep your own natural tooth for years to come. Root canal therapy will completely alleviate any pain you may have experienced in the tooth prior.
Once your tooth has undergone a root canal, it will then require a post, core, and crown preparation by your general dentist at a later visit-- often 2-3 weeks following root canal therapy.
A consultation, a radiograph, and conversation with your doctor will determine if you are a good candidate for this procedure.
There is no recovery time following this procedure, but we just ask you to not attempt any heavy duty chewing until your anesthetic has completely worn off as there may be an opportunity for tongue or tissue injury.
Typically, root canal therapy can be completed in one visit, however, every circumstance is different and some may require multiple visits. It varies from person to person and depends on the level of pain, infection, and how many roots are needing therapy.
The cost of this procedure will depend on what tooth and how many canals will be treated. A treatment plan will be presented and reviewed prior to your visit. This procedure is usually partially covered by dental insurance, but each plan is different. You will have the opportunity to speak with an administrative specialist to determine your specific coverage.