Endodontics describes procedures that deal with unhealthy teeth as opposed to unhealthy gums (although the two are often related). The most common endodontic procedure is a root canal, which is required when the soft tissue inside your tooth — otherwise known as the pulp — becomes infected or inflamed.
The root canal’s bad reputation began decades ago when modern technologies and anesthetics were not as effective as what is currently used in clinical practice. Nowadays, root canals and other endodontic treatments can be completed quickly and comfortably, putting those previous stereotypes to rest.
If you notice prolonged sensitivity to heat and cold or tooth tenderness to the touch (either with food or your finger), book an appointment so your dentist can examine the issue.
Leaving an infected tooth untreated could lead to much more complicated conditions including an abscess, which could result in extraction, as well as other more serious medical issues.
The root canal procedure
Dr. Bettina Basrani is our on-site endodontist.
- First, she anesthetizes the tooth and covers it with a dental dam to prevent saliva from contaminating the procedure.
- Next, she uses sodium hypochlorite to clean out the infected pulp from the canals that lead down to the tooth’s roots (hence, the word root canal).
- After the space is cleaned and shaped, she fills the canals with a rubber-like material and seals the canal shut with a temporary filling.
- A crown is then placed on top of the tooth to offer long-term protection.
The following video explains the root canal procedure:
The advantages of root canal treatment
Avoiding the extraction of the infected tooth is the biggest advantage of a root canal treatment
The disadvantages of root canal treatment
Following the procedure, the tooth is more fragile and can be prone to chipping or fracture. This is why a crown is often recommended after root canal treatment.
Root Canal Q&A
Root canals can be performed by an endodontist, a dental specialist specifically trained for this treatment.
No. Anesthetic is used to eliminate discomfort during the procedure.
Root canal generally take an hour to an hour and a half to complete but can be longer or shorter depending on the state of the tooth.
There are many reasons why a root canal cannot be completed in one visit. This most commonly occurs when the tooth has a significant infection requiring a few weeks to resolve. In these instances, medication is left in the root canal system to help eliminate bacteria and resolve the infection. Once the infection has improved or resolved, your dentist can compete the root canal treatment.
No. Root canals are targeted to treat the affected tooth and will not impact other teeth in your mouth.
Following root canal treatment, your tooth will typically require a crown to protect it from further damage and prevent reinfection of the root canal system. After the root canal is completed, your dentist will advise you if a crown is required.
In general, no. For the first few days, you may experience some discomfort associated with the tooth, but after a few days, you should be entirely back to normal.
No, there is no link between root canals and cancer. This is a myth that started in the 1920s and was based on poorly-designed research. It is a dangerous myth because it has prevented people from getting the necessary oral care they require.
In the time between your root canal and when your tooth is fitted with a crown, the tooth is susceptible to fracture. You should avoid chewing or biting on it as much as possible
Many factors impact the cost of root canal treatment. At your initial assessment, your dentist will be able to provide a cost estimate. Most insurance policies cover root canal procedures but not all. Once your dentist has had an opportunity to examine your mouth, they can send a cost estimate to your insurer to determine if the proposed treatment is covered under your dental plan and to what extent.
Do you have prolonged tooth pain?
This is a common indicator that a root canal may be necessary. Book an appointment with your dentist who will examine the area and determine whether a root canal is the best course of action.