Benefiting You

Root canal: What to expect during treatment

If you’ve never had a root canal before, here’s what you should know.
Root canal treatments are feared by many, but the treatment actually relieves pain. It can also save your smile and is often a painless procedure.

What is the root canal?
The root canal is the tooth’s center, which lies below the gum line and runs down the length of the tooth. The American Association of Endodontists defines the inner chamber above the root as the pulp chamber, which is filled with soft tissue. This soft tissue contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue that help the tooth’s root grow during development and provide blood circulation. Once the tooth is fully developed, it can survive without the pulp.

Why do you need a root canal treatment?
It’s necessary when the soft tissue within the pulp chamber dies. This could be from trauma or decay that makes its way through the outer enamel and the next layer of the tooth called dentin. Once decay reaches the pulp chamber, the pulp tissue can become inflamed and infected. When this happens, the tooth and surrounding area can become extremely painful, and can’t be treated without extracting the tooth or performing a root canal procedure.

What does your dentist do during a root canal?
Treatment can be performed by an endodontist or general dentist. The first step is numbing the area using local anesthesia (general anesthesia isn’t necessary). The dentist will isolate the tooth needing treatment with a shield. Then the crown of the tooth is opened up, usually with a drill, and fluid is worked into the canals to disinfect them.

Your dentist will remove the pulp from the pulp chamber and the root canals, shaping them at the same time to prepare them for filling and sealing. When the canals are cleaned, your dentist will fill and seal them.

How much will a root canal cost?
The cost varies based on the provider, geographic location, type of tooth and other factors, but the average price ranges from $750 to more than $1,100. With dental insurance, however, you’ll likely pay significantly less, especially if you use a dentist in your insurance carrier’s dental network. To be sure about your cost, ask your insurance provider for a pre-treatment estimate.

If your dentist says you need a root canal treatment, don’t let fear overwhelm you. Although it can be daunting, it may be the best way to save your smile and relieve your pain.

This post is based on content that first appeared in SmileInSight.