What is a Root Canal?
A root canal is a common dental procedure used to save a tooth when the pulp of the tooth has been badly decayed or infected. The tooth pulp is the soft area within the centre of a tooth, protected by the hard outer layer known as the tooth enamel and dentin. The tooth pulp contains the blood vessels, nerve, and connective tissue of a tooth.
There are many ways in which the tooth pulp can be damaged, which include:
- deep tooth decay from cavities that have spread and penetrated into the tooth pulp
- a tooth that has experienced trauma through repeated dental procedures
- a tooth that has experienced trauma due to injuries and impact to the tooth, such as in a sports injury where a person is hit hard in the jaw area.
- chips and/or cracks in the tooth
- a faulty or defective tooth crown
During a root canal procedure, the damaged pulp of the tooth is removed. The inside of your tooth is then thoroughly cleaned and sealed with a rubber like material called gutta-percha.
After the procedure, the tooth is restored with a crown or a filling to help protect and complete the outer appearance of the tooth.
Why Should I get a Root Canal?
If your tooth is badly damaged or infected, the infection inside the tooth pulp can spread and lead to gum inflammation and swelling, and/or the formation of an abscess, which is a swollen cyst containing pus due to an accumulation of bacteria. Swollen gums can cause pain and discomfort, and there is really no way to remove the infection within the tooth unless a root canal is performed.
Sometimes, a root canal procedure is the only means of saving a tooth that is badly damaged. If a root canal is not done in this situation, the only other option is pulling out the tooth.
Root canal procedures are highly successful and have a 95% success rate. Oftentimes, a tooth that is restored through a root canal procedure can last a lifetime.
How Much Does a Root Canal Procedure Cost?
The root canal procedure itself should cost no more than $500 and the dental crown or filling which is often required after the procedure is no more than $1300. The price depends on the severity of the tooth damage, as well as which tooth is affected. Given a general estimate, a full root canal procedure including the crown and/or filling should cost somewhere between $300-$2500.
Although root canal procedures a quite expensive, oftentimes your insurance company will cover a large portion of the cost. If your insurance company is able to cover a large portion of the cost, you may find yourself paying no more than a few hundred dollars for the entire procedure.
What Can I Expect After Getting a Root Canal Procedure?
If your tooth was badly damaged or infected before, a root canal procedure will relieve the pain you felt. You can expect the area of your tooth in which the procedure was done to be sensitive the first few days after the treatment is completed. Taking an over-the-counter pain medications, such as Ibuprofen or Advil, can help to ease the pain.
Until the root canal procedure if fully completed, which means a crown or filling is done to complete the tooth, it is a good idea to minimize any chewing in the area in which the root canal was performed.
Your restored tooth after a root canal procedure should work just as well and efficiently as a healthy, normal tooth.