A root canal is actually “root canal therapy” and it is one of the most misunderstood dental procedures. Almost everyone has heard of a root canal but doesn’t really know what this procedure is. Let’s start with what is wrong with a tooth for it to need a root canal.
The inside portion of a tooth, beneath the hard enamel and dentin is the pulp. The pulp is the vitality to the tooth. It contains the blood supply and nerves for the tooth. When the pulp of the tooth is compromised by injury, tooth decay, a crack, or bacteria the tissues become irreversibly inflamed or infected and require removal (a root canal). The pulp is filled with nerve fibers that are very sensitive to stimulus when compromised, when this space is insulted by the mentioned stimulus the result is a sharp and shooting pain. Further, because the pulp is surrounded by hard tooth structure swelling leads to pressure and pain in this tooth which causes a deep dull pain. The take home message here is that damage to the tooth’s nerve space often leads to pain.
The treatment for damaged pulp and often subsequent pain is root canal therapy by your dentist. Root canal therapy is removing the affected tooth structure. This is done by cleaning out the affected center portion of roots of the teeth called canals (the roots are not removed), sterilizing the canals with an antibacterial agent such as sodium hypochlorite and then filling the root canals of the teeth with a material such as gutta percha and cement. If you just said to yourself that a root canal sounds just like a “filling” but for the roots of your teeth – you are correct.
The facts on Root Canals:
- They are not as painful as often alluded too, in fact the patient should be so well anesthetized they don’t feel anything.
- A root canal takes about an hour for a dentist to complete on a front tooth and a little longer on a back tooth (back teeth have more roots and canals).
- Root canals are fairly expensive at least $500 for a front tooth and likely over a $1000 on a posterior tooth.
- After root canal therapy the tooth will need a permanent restoration for success, this is an additional procedure and may double the cost of the root canal treatment.
- Root canal therapy has a very high success rate at 90 – 95%
Drs. David and Janna Civils
1114 Magnolia Street