When is Root Canal Therapy Necessary?
Each tooth has a number of layers. The outermost shell is made of enamel, the hardest substance in the body.
Underneath is the softer dentin layer, and below that is the pulp. Tooth pulp is made of tiny blood vessels and
nerve tissues; it’s located in a small passageway known as a root canal.
Bacteria in your mouth can eat through the enamel and dentin layers to attack the pulp. The pain can range from
mild to severe; it might only be felt while eating, or it can last throughout the night. You might also suffer
from inflammation, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. Ultimately, if the decay isn’t addressed, you could
lose the tooth altogether.
Root canal therapy will remove the infected pulp and other tissues. This will relieve the pain from the toothache
and allow you to keep your full smile.
The Root Canal Process
First of all, we’ll need to take an X-ray to examine the root canal and look for signs of infection in the
surrounding bone before moving on with the actual surgery. A local anesthetic will be used to numb the area
around the tooth in question. The use of anesthetic ensures that the root canal procedure won’t cause any
more discomfort than a simple filling!
A small hole will be made in the tooth, allowing Dr. Castleberry to remove the pulp along with any bacteria and
related debris. The inside of the root canal is then cleaned, and afterwards the hole is sealed with a dental
crown. The crown is important for holding the tooth together and preventing bacteria from entering again.
Sometimes the crown can be placed right away, but in other cases you might need to come in for a second
appointment. (A temporary filling will be used to fill the hole in the meantime.)
After the surgery, keep your head elevated; this will help keep the swelling and pain under control. Avoid eating
until the anesthetic wears off so you don’t accidentally bite your tongue or the inside of your cheek.
Ibuprofen and other over-the-counter pain medications can help you stay comfortable during the recovery process
(although in some cases you’ll receive a prescription). Until the gums heal, you’ll be at a higher
risk of infection, but you can reduce bacteria levels in your mouth by gargling with warm, slightly salty water.
Avoid strenuous activities for a few days, and only eat soft foods such as mashed potatoes and ice cream.
Root Canals - Frequently Asked Questions
Many people tend to get concerned when they hear that they need a root canal. The fact of the matter is root
are designed to save your natural teeth, not simply cause you discomfort. In fact, there are many misconceptions
when it comes to this treatment, which is why we’ve included a brief FAQ section on the treatment below as
well as our informed answers. By the time you finish reading them, you should feel far more confident about your
Is a Root Canal Painful?
This is by far the most common misconception that we hear from patients. Every single root canal treatment
local anesthetic to numb the tooth and the surrounding gum tissue in order to prevent all sensation during the
procedure. This ensures that your root canal therapy feels no different than a basic dental filling would. If
were to feel discomfort during the treatment, it would mean that the local anesthetic did not numb the area
properly. When it comes to discomfort, it’s likely either the infection inside of your tooth or the
that comes after treatment, which is typical for any type of non-invasive dental treatment like root canals.
Is a Root Canal Better Than an Extraction?
Absolutely! Root canals are literally designed to save natural teeth and prevent the need for an extraction. When
comes down to it, having a root canal is far more ideal than having your tooth completely extracted. Not only is
root canal much cheaper than an extraction, but you’re eventually going to need to have the tooth replaced
you choose the extraction route. Your risk for tooth loss only goes up the more teeth that you lose, and missing
teeth only makes it more difficult to chew the foods you want or smile with confidence. Dentists do everything
can to prevent the need for an extraction, and root canals play a major role in those efforts.
Does Insurance Cover Root Canals?
In most cases, your dental insurance plan should cover root canals up to a point. Most dental plans will cover
restorative treatments like root canals up to 50 percent. Of course, this varies depending on the plan that your
employer offers. We’ll work with you to understand the breakdown of your coverage before your treatment
begins, so you can go into treatment without any surprises.
What Will Happen If I Choose Not to Have a Root Canal?
The worst thing you can do when you’re told that you need a root canal is put off the treatment
The fact is when a root canal is needed, it’s because your tooth is suffering from an infection inside the
pulp. This infection can easily spread to neighboring teeth, causing the need for additional treatment and
costs. Furthermore, your tooth will only begin to remain in serious discomfort. Eventually, you may need to have
tooth extracted outright. In extreme cases, an oral infection can even be life-threatening because of how close
sits next to your brain.