Root Canal Therapy
What is Endodontic Therapy?
When the pulp of a tooth is inflamed or infected, endodontic therapy is indicated. If infected, diseased, or damaged pulp is left untreated, it can lead to pain, dental abscesses, and head and neck infections.
A root canal is the anatomic space within the root of the tooth where the pulp is located. The pulp includes blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissues. During root canal therapy, damaged or dead pulp is removed. The purpose of the root canal therapy is to stop infection, keep it from spreading to the bone, and ultimately restore the tooth.
Your Root Canal Therapy
Your dentist will diagnose the necessity for root canal treatment by using a combination of assessment tools and clinical expertise. He or she may:
Evaluate your x-rays to identify any signs of infection
Assess the structure of the tooth
Perform a pulp vitality test to determine the condition of the pulp
Perform percussion tests by gently tapping on the tooth
All these tests reveal critical information about the vitality of the tooth and state of its pulp. This information will also help the dentist discern how many canals the affected tooth has. Molar teeth typically have three or four canals, while anterior teeth have one or two.
The process of endodontic therapy may require upwards of three appointments:
1. Open and Drain or Pulpectomy and Temporary Filling
This first step involves completely removing the pulp from the crown and root. Once the damaged pulp is taken out, the tooth is disinfected and sealed to promote healing.
2. Root Canal Treatment
Within 1-2 weeks after the first appointment, the complete root canal is an approximate 90 minute booking. At this visit, the dentist will ensure the root canal system is thoroughly cleaned, shaped, and sealed.
3. Permanent Filling
At your final appointment, a permanent filling will be placed on the tooth to seal it and guard against future damage.
Because a root canal treated tooth is structurally weaker than a non-treated tooth, a crown is often recommended to protect against breakage. A crown may be placed at some point in the future as it is not part of the immediate endodontic treatment of the tooth. Your dentist will discuss with you your individual needs in terms of a crown.
Root Canal Fees
We understand that root canal therapy requires a financial commitment on your part and are dedicated to providing you with accurate information as you plan your treatment. We recommend that you consult your insurance provider(s) to determine your eligibility for each step in the endodontic process and suggest that you familiarize yourself with the possible limitations of your plan. You may refer to your estimate when verifying coverage with your insurer as the procedure codes, treatment descriptions, and fee details will be sufficient for your insurer to provide an estimate of coverage.
Our treatment coordinators can also send a formal estimate to your insurer(s) prior to beginning the major aspects of this treatment. Note that insurance companies only return their responses directly to patients. Once your estimate is submitted, approval will be sent to you, and you alone. When you receive a response, we’ll be happy to help you interpret it and plan next steps.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Procedure Painful?
Rarely is root canal therapy a painful procedure. Patients usually experience pain before having the treatment performed. The forms of pain patients experience can range from extreme sensitivity or dull aches and pains to spontaneous and persistent, throbbing pain.
Is a Root Canal Filled Tooth a Dead Tooth?
No. Even though the pulp has been removed from the tooth, it is still connected to other tissues and receives nourishment from them.
How Can I Avoid Needing a Root Canal?
The best way to prevent the need for endodontic therapy is good oral hygiene. A thorough home care program which includes flossing and twice a day brushing is your best bet. Regular, routine visits to your dentist and dental hygienist are also very important for keeping your teeth and mouth healthy.