There are more than 14 million root canal procedures every year, making it one of the most common dental treatments in America. The vast majority of these are non-surgical root canals. A non-surgical root canal is a simple procedure that can preserve and save a patient’s natural teeth, preventing the need for a tooth extraction, dental bridges or implants.
Indications That a Root Canal is Needed
The center of each tooth is filled with “pulp,” a system of blood vessels and nerves. Cracked or chipped teeth, advanced tooth decay, or trauma to the tooth can all cause the pulp to become infected. This can lead to extreme pain in the teeth or gums, sensitivity to heat and cold, and even visible injury or swelling on the tooth.
Surgical vs. Non-Surgical Root Canals
A root canal is necessary when the pulp inside the tooth becomes infected. This often happens when a tooth is fractured. Dr. Cassara can usually spot the problem right away. But in cases where an X-ray doesn’t reveal the source of the pain, or if the infection inside the tooth has become very severe, a surgical root canal could be necessary. In a surgical root canal, the dentist makes an incision in the gums in order to access the tooth from the side.
Most patients call the dentist right away when they have a cracked tooth, due to the intense pain. This is why most root canals are non-surgical ones; patients tend to call the dentist’s office before a serious infection can set in!
Non-Surgical Root Canal Procedure
A local anesthetic is administered to prevent pain during the procedure. Dr. Cassara will drill into the infected tooth, and then the diseased pulp will be removed. The root canal system inside the tooth is then thoroughly cleaned and sealed. Depending on the type of treatment, this can usually be achieved in one office visit.
Non-surgical root canals have about a 90 percent success rate in patients. Patients can drive home immediately after the procedure and are able to resume normal activities immediately.
Post-Root Canal Care
Following a root canal procedure, you will need to schedule an appointment with a restorative dentist to complete the process. Your restorative dentist will work with you to decide on the best after-care treatment option. This will usually involve a dental crown, which “caps” the tooth and will help to preserve it for years to come without developing additional problems. Patients do need to continue to observe good dental hygiene, including regular brushing and flossing, to prevent further problems.
Non-Surgical Root Canal Cost
A non-surgical root canal is generally less expensive than extracting a tooth and then installing dental implants and a replacement tooth. The cost of a non-surgical root canal can vary depending on the severity damage to the tooth, as well as which tooth is affected (back molars are sometimes more difficult to access than other teeth, for example). Most dental insurance policies will cover a portion or the full cost of a root canal procedure.
The important thing to remember is that you should not wait if you have an intense toothache. The sooner that Dr. Cassara can assess the problem the better the outcome is likely to be. If you have a painful chipped or cracked tooth and think you might need a root canal, contact our office right away.