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If you have tooth pain that keeps you up at night—or you have a tooth that’s awfully sensitive to certain foods or drinks—you might have an infection in your tooth that needs more than just a filling. A root canal can remove this infection and alleviate your pain. What’s more, we have a root canal specialist, called an endodontist, at Towncare Dental of Forest Hill.
Many people fear getting a root canal even more than a filling because they assume it’s a lot more painful. It’s not. In fact, it can be about as easy and comfortable as fixing a cavity.
When Is a Root Canal Needed?
To understand why you might need a root canal, it’s helpful to know the makeup of your tooth. Within the outer enamel that’s visible when you smile is a hard layer called dentin, which covers soft tissue called pulp. The pulp contains connective tissue, blood vessels, and nerves.
Sometimes when a tooth becomes severely decayed or injured with cracked or chipped enamel, an infection takes hold in the pulp. The pulp also can become inflamed or infected after a large filling, an injury, or other facial trauma. Because of the nerves within the pulp, any infection here is extremely painful. Pain and sensitivity aren’t the only symptoms. You might also notice tooth discoloration or severe swelling of the gum around a tooth. Left untreated, an infection in the pulp can cause bone loss around the tooth’s roots, a pus-filled pocket called an abscess at the tooth’s roots, or swelling in the face, neck, or head.
A root canal removes the damaged pulp, sealing it from further infection. A tooth that’s fully developed can survive without its pulp and the nerves inside the pulp.
An endodontist such as ours in West Palm Beach receives special training for an additional two years, studying root canal techniques and procedures. Our endodontist specializes in problems involving the tooth’s pulp and can treat even difficult cases effectively.
What Is Root Canal Therapy?
Root canal therapy essentially saves your natural tooth, so you don’t need to have it extracted. Although a tooth that’s had a root canal needs to be capped with a permanent crown as additional protection, saving your natural tooth keeps the surrounding teeth from drifting out of position or experiencing excessive wear or strain. Keeping your natural tooth also avoids any change in your chewing habits, your biting force, and your overall appearance.
What should I expect from a root canal treatment?
A root canal treatment is actually quite similar to a filling in several ways. Depending on your needs, the procedure can take about an hour or two.
The root canal process typically includes:
- An X-ray to see the interior shape of your tooth and assess the infection.
- Numbing the tooth with local anesthesia so you don’t feel any pain.
- A rubber dam (a sheet of rubber) placed around the tooth to keep the area dry.
- A small access hole drilled in the crown, or the top of the tooth. The endodontist then removes the infected pulp and disinfects the interior of your tooth.
- Shaping the canals inside the tooth, filling them with a special substance to keep out contaminants, and sealing the tooth.
You’ll return to your general dentist to have the tooth capped with a crown. That helps strengthen and protect the tooth.
What Should I Expect After a Root Canal?
No pain, that’s for sure. Once your root canal and any crown are complete, consider your tooth back to normal. You’ll chew, speak, and smile as you did before that painful infection occurred.
Teeth that have been restored through a root canal treatment can last for a long time with proper hygiene. Our helpful endodontist in West Palm Beach is glad to discuss your particular situation and how root canal therapy can help you.
How Much Does a Root Canal Cost?
Root canal treatment varies in cost depending on the tooth and the complexity of the procedure. A front tooth has only one root, for instance, while a molar can have up to four roots and cost more.
Your dental insurance typically will cover a portion of the cost. Please call our office at (561) 459-1488 to schedule a detailed consultation.