What is a Root Canal Treatment?
Every tooth has an inner chamber that encases blood vessels and nerve endings called the pulp that provides the tooth with the ability to feel hot and cold and stay alive. If a tooth is irritated past its limits, the pulp will start to die off. This process is usually very painful and there is no going back. The only way to save the tooth is to clean up the chamber of its content. This process is called a root canal treatment.
Will it hurt?
It will not hurt in the majority of cases as local anaesthetics are administered to the area to numb the tooth well before the procedure. In rare cases it may hurt a little bit in the beginning if the tooth is very inflamed and infected. The pain would be sharp and momentary in order to enter the chamber to freeze the pulp directly. In the majority of cases it is a smooth ride and often patients fall asleep.
Can I work the next day?
Yes. You may avoid eating on that side for couple of weeks as there may be some lingering sensitivity when you chew. This is normal and it passes.
How long is the procedure?
It depends on which tooth it is and the complexities of the roots shapes. It could take anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours.
Will I need a crown?
Yes if you want to save your tooth long term. The tooth is an empty shell filled with plastic like material that shows as white lines on x rays. It becomes drier and more brittle over time. It can easily break if you happen to bite on something hard. If the tooth had a large filling beforehand it will be even weaker.
It is heart breaking to me when I see patients who did not take my advice seriously and come a year later with the tooth cracked in half and I have to extract it. What a waste of time and money! A little bit of prevention will go a long way.
How much does it cost?
It depends on the tooth and its complexity. It can range from $500-$900.