Do You Need A Root Canal?
Wait, what is a root canal?
A root canal procedure is a dental treatment to get rid of (and hopefully prevent any return of) infection inside a tooth, where the nerve has become damaged or inflamed, or even died. In different countries around the world it can be called a "root canal", a "root filling", or simply "root treatment".
practising root canal procedure on a model tooth
A root procedure is normally done to save a tooth, when it would otherwise have to be taken out. It involves cleaning out the tiny spaces inside a tooth where the nerve is. Then sealing up those spaces to prevent bacteria getting back in.
Root canal treatment is very demanding work for a dentist. It involves working in tiny spaces inside a tooth, the thickness of a human hair. Specialists will use a surgical microscope. Doing the treatment to a high standard means spending lots of time. Root canal treatment is one of the most technically demanding treatments for a dentist to do well.
Root Canal Procedure
Here is an X-ray of two molars that have had root canal procedures. The root fillings are the white lines inside the roots, in the middle of each tooth. The tooth on the right of the picture is a normal tooth.
What was involved in carrying out the root treatments in the photos above?
- First, we have to get the tooth very numb. My page on Dental Anesthetics is a guide to how we do this.
- Then we have to position a small rubber sheet over the tooth, with the tooth poking out through a small hole. This is like a surgical drape to prevent saliva getting into the tooth during the root canal procedure. It is also called "rubber dam" by dentists.
- Next, the dentist has to make a small hole in the biting surfaceof the tooth, so that he can get to the tiny spaces deep in the middleof the tooth where the nerve is (or was, if it has died).
- Thenext steps take the most time. The dentist has to track down everylittle canal inside each root. For a molar, this can be between 3 and 6canals! The dentist has no way of knowing how many canals a tooth has.He must search carefully for as many as he can find.
- Once he has located a many canals as possible, he must clean them out totally, using tiny instruments and disinfectants.
- Oncethe canals deep inside the tooth are clean, they must be sealed up toprevent bacteria getting back in. This is the actual "root filling".
- Finally,the dentist must seal up the hole he made at the start with a perfectfilling. Sometimes a crown will give a stronger result. Finished!
As a dentist, I have done thousands of root canal procedures in the last 30 years. I have also had TWO molar root canals myself, so I know what it's like to be on the receiving end!
Of course, there are definite reasons WHY a tooth might need root treatment. We don't just do a root canal because we feel like it!
You need a root canal procedure if you are getting toothache symptoms that tell us the nerve inside a tooth is dying, or has already died and is now infected.
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Here are some links to more specific pages about Root Canal.
Root canal symptoms are usually very clear. It's obvious which tooth is causing the pain and needs treatment. But once in a while the symptoms can be confusing. It can feel like several teeth are all hurting at once! If you're having severe pain you may need Emergency Root Canal.
You can read more about this at my Pulpitis page. It goes into a bit more detail about the exact differences between a reversible toothache and a non-reversible one.
However when you have an Infected Root Canal , you will be able to identify the exact tooth very easily. A tooth with a root canal infection is normally very tender to bite on. You can put your finger on the exact tooth without hesitation.
Root canal treatment is also one option for a dead tooth. A Dead Tooth does not have any nerve inside it, because the nerve has died, and the tooth will become infected at some point. A dead tooth will also gradually get darker over time, so the sooner it has a root canal treatment, the better the chance of it staying white!
When I tell a patient that a tooth is in trouble, one of the first questions is frequently about the alternatives to root canal. The alternatives are few. It really boils down to having the tooth taken out or trying to save it with root canal treatment. Here is some information about Getting a Tooth Pulled.
Molar root canal is the most technically difficult of all root canal treatments. It takes the most time and so costs more than for other teeth. It is not unusual for a dentist to refer molar root canal to an endodontist.
Because of the complexity of root canal treatment, there's a few things that can go wrong. So there can also be Root Canal Complications! There are many potential problems, even with apparently straightforward cases.
Sometimes, we can be faced with an emergency root canal. In this situation the dentist has to act quickly. This can happen when someone has had an accident, breaking a tooth. OR where a tooth has become infected, and an abscess develops overnight.
Root Canal Procedure
Root canal costs are always a consideration when faced with the need for treatment. The cost of root canal depends on several things, such as which tooth is involved, ie. front tooth or molar. Generally, back teeth are more complicated and so cost more than front teeth.
In about 5% to 10% of cases, there may be a Root Canal Failure. This can be caused by several things, some of them preventable. A root canal failure is not necessarily malpractice! Sometimes it is possible to salvage a failure with Root Canal Surgery.
There is always a chance of Pain After Root Canal in certain situations. It's not unusual to have some discomfort after a root canal procedure for a few days. I recommend Tylenol or Ibuprofen until things settle.
A root canal procedure should be painless during the actual treatment in the dentists office. A frequent question from patients is "Do root canals hurt?" The answer is "NO, a root canal treatment should NOT hurt!"
Here is a guide to Dental Anesthetics particularly with regard to root canal treatment. It explains how to get a painless shot, and what the dentist should do to make sure the tooth is numb!
Root canal treatments have a very high chance of success. In fact, compared to most medical procedures, dental treatment generally has very good success rates!
After a tooth has been saved with a root canal treatment, it must be sealed up to prevent bacteria from saliva getting back in. One way to do this is with a Root Canal crown.
One potential problem with root canal crowns is that we sometimes need to put a small post into the top of the root canal, to give the crown something to sit on. Unfortunately this can weaken the root, and increase the risk of a cracked tooth root. You can see some pictures of this at Cracked Tooth Root Photos.
Finally, there are also some very out-of-date views about trying to save teeth with root treatment. A tiny number of people feel that dentists are covering up root canal danger. I have written about this misguided opinion only to expose how stupid it is.
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Tooth Removal vs Root Canal2022- The options for your tooth
Tooth removal vs root canal? Find out your options here! Dr. Richard Mitchell explains everything. Updated 2022
Root Canal Complications - What Can Go Wrong With Root Canal?
Root canal complications include calcified root canals and bent roots. By dentist Dr. Richard Mitchell.
Emergency Root Canal - when should you seek emergency treatment?
Do you need an emergency root canal? How can you tell? Find out if a root canal is needed. By dentist Dr. Richard Mitchell
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- Dental Health Advice ›
- Root Canal Procedure
If a tooth hasn't had a previous injury, a general dentist may be able to perform the root canal. Surprisingly though, one of the most common issues that necessitate a root canal performed by an endodontist is a failed previous procedure; many of which are performed by general dentists.How long does it take a root canal to fully heal? ›
Most patients recover after a few days or so. In some cases, patients go through complications. These patients may take one to two weeks to heal. Any pain or swelling that pain medication cannot relieve will need treatment from the dentist or a doctor.What are the 3 stages of root canal treatment? ›
- Stage 1: Diagnosing the Infected Pulp.
- Stage 2: Getting rid of the Infected Pulp.
- Stage 3: A new Root Canal Filling is Placed.
- Stage 4: The Tooth is Restored.
- Very hot and very cold foods and beverages, which can irritate sensitive teeth.
- Sticky foods like gum, caramels, and other candies.
- Chewy foods like steak and crusty bread.
- Hard foods like nuts.
- Crunchy foods like pretzels and tortilla chips.
A root canal causes mild pain for a few days. The discomfort is temporary and is manageable with over-the-counter pain relievers and practicing proper oral hygiene. However, if the discomfort lasts over three days, you must see your dentist for advice.Why do root canals take 2 visits? ›
The root canal procedure is completed in two separate visits to ensure that the tooth is thoroughly cleaned out, sealed up, and protected from further damage.Is a crown necessary after a root canal? ›
The need for a crown is typically determined by the amount of remaining tooth structure after a root canal. Generally, if more than half of the tooth is gone, a crown is indicated to restore the tooth's structural integrity.How long should you stay home after a root canal? ›
In most cases, patients require only a few days to recover from a root canal procedure. After the procedure, the patient may feel some irritation or soreness for the first 24 to 48 hours. To manage this pain and soreness, your dentist will prescribe over-the-counter pain medication.What is the fastest way to recover from a root canal? ›
- Elevate the head when sleeping and don't eat for a few hours after the procedure. ...
- Take pain medication. ...
- Gargle salt warm water. ...
- Avoid any strenuous activities for a few days. ...
- Avoid anything that can cause inflammation.
A successful root canal can cause mild pain for a few days. This is temporary, and should go away on its own as long as you practice good oral hygiene. You should see your dentist for a follow-up if the pain lasts longer than three days.
Avoid any kind of alcohol or tobacco for at least 24 hours before the root canal to prepare your gums for the local anesthetic. Get a full night of sleep the evening before the procedure. Take an anti-inflammatory painkiller before you arrive at the endodontist's office.Why does a root canal need 3 visits? ›
How many visits does a root canal take? Most root canals can be done in one to two appointments. The first appointment is the procedure itself when the infected pulp is removed. The second (and maybe third) appointment is when the root canal gets cleaned and filled with a crown or other filling to prevent infections.Is the second part of a root canal painful? ›
Is the second visit for a root canal painful? Not at all. During this visit, you have just completed a course of antibiotics, and your dentist has removed most of the infection within the tooth structure.Can I work the same day after a root canal? ›
Most patients can return to their normal activities directly after their root canal procedure. Patients should plan to rest the day of their root canal procedure, and most can return to work the very next day.Do you need bed rest after a root canal? ›
The number one root canal recovery tip is to get as much rest as possible. Your body is trying to heal and getting an adequate amount of sleep will help you get back to your normal routine asap.Should you rest the day after a root canal? ›
Just as with any other surgical procedure, your body needs to rest to optimize your healing. Most endodontists recommend taking it easy for at least the remainder of the day and night of your procedure. If possible, plan to relax for 24 hours after the root canal.Do you need antibiotics after root canal? ›
Antibiotics are not absolutely necessary after a root canal. After a root canal, you need very little time to recover, and post-operative care is the best way for fast healing. However, a dentist may recommend antibiotics before root canal to improve the chances of a successful outcome.Does a root canal give immediate relief? ›
Although the root canal procedure is frequently referred to as being painful, this is not necessarily the case. The most painful part is often the infection. In fact, many patients often find immediate relief following the procedure.What happens after first session of root canal? ›
As the medication used to numb your mouth during the procedure wears off, you may feel some tenderness in the area for a few days as everything heals and some mild soreness in your jaw from keeping your mouth open for an extended period during the procedure.How long after root canal do you get a crown? ›
The crown should be placed as soon as possible after the procedure. This is advisable because it will help protect your tooth and prevent any future problems. If you have any questions about root canal treatment, talk to your dentist.
If your dentist recommends a dental crown, you should get it placed as soon as the inflammation and discomfort from the infected root canal subsides. This is typically about a week after the root canal treatment. Most dentists recommend you get your dental crown placed within 30 days of your root canal treatment.How many root canals can you have on one tooth? ›
How Many Times Can You Get A Root Canal Procedure On The Same Tooth? A dentist can repeat a root canal treatment on a tooth two or more times. While teeth that undergo a root canal procedure can last a lifetime, some of these teeth may not heal properly due to salivary contamination and other reasons.Can I drink coffee after a root canal? ›
For the following 24 hours After Treatment you must: Avoid any dark staining drinks like Tea, Coffee, Red Wine, colored soft or alcoholic drinks and fruit juice. Avoid all dark staining foods like bolognese, soy sauce, red meat, chocolate and all fruit except bananas.What holds a tooth in place after a root canal? ›
However, a root canal can impact your tooth's strength, making it weaker, and you may need something to hold it back, like a dental crown.Which cap is better after root canal? ›
Dental crowns are a great restoration option used both on their own and in conjunction with other procedures such as root canals and dental implant placements. They are often recommended after a root canal procedure is complete, however, it is not 100% necessary.How can I calm my nerves before a root canal? ›
- Become an Informed Root Canal Patient. The more you know about the procedure, the more at ease you will feel. ...
- Think About Life After Your Root Canal. ...
- Attempt Meditation and Visualization. ...
- Practice Self-Care and Pampering. ...
- Listen to Music. ...
- Contact Midtown Endodontist NYC.
How many visits does it take for Root Canal Treatment? You can expect two or three visits for an endodontic treatment, better known as a root canal. Your first appointment works on fixing the pain you probably have, and that shouldn't take too long. Once that's settled, your next appointments will treat the root canal.How many sitting does a root canal take? ›
Standard root canal treatments usually require two visits or more to be completed. In the case of two appointments, you can expect the first session to include creating an opening in the crown to provide access to the root canal and later cleaning and disinfecting the canal to get rid of the infected tissue.Can I drive day after root canal? ›
Is it safe to drive after a root canal? After your root canal, you will be able to safely drive. This is because the numbing used during a root canal is the same when you have your teeth cleaned or when you get a filling with Dr. Ward.How long will my face be swollen after a root canal? ›
You may experience gum soreness or tenderness in the area and the swelling may even spread to the cheek next to your tooth. Typically, the swelling takes at least 24 hours to subside, with most patients not experiencing a complete reduction in swelling for at least 72 hours.
Take a pain reliever before your appointment
While today's root canal procedure causes less discomfort than it used to, you can still expect a degree of soreness. Taking a pain reliever prior to root canal can help alleviate some of the discomfort you may experience during and immediately after your procedure.
Because most root canal procedures are done with a local anesthetic to numb the tooth and usually don't cause much pain or discomfort, you should be able to drive home or to work safely after the procedure. If you receive sedation medication or general anesthesia, you'll want to get a ride home.Why does my tooth hurt when I tap on it after a root canal? ›
First, though the nerve-filled “pulp” is removed from your tooth, there are still other nerves and sensitive tissues near the canal of your tooth, and these can be irritated and become swollen or inflamed after your endodontic treatment, causing some minor discomfort.How long does it take for your mouth to feel better after a root canal? ›
Root Canal Recovery Time
Root canal recovery should only take 2-3 days. The pain will subside fairly quickly. In the long term, it is important to keep flossing and brushing daily and schedule biannual cleanings at the dentist to ensure your teeth stay healthy.
Serious Or Prolonged Pain 1-2 Weeks After Treatment Is Not Normal. If you have severe, sharp pain, or pain that's still very intense up to 1-2 weeks after your treatment, this is not normal at all, and it indicates that your root canal has failed, and the infection is still present in the tooth.What medication do they give you before a root canal? ›
A dentist may prescribe antibiotics before a root canal procedure to improve the chances of a successful outcome. Antibiotics are usually continued after the procedure as well.What do dentists give you before a root canal? ›
Some of the most common sedatives used during root canals include Oral Seditives and Nitrous Oxide. Oral sedatives are usually in pill form, something like Valium. A dentist may ask you to take one before the root canal begins. The medication will make the patient drowsy, but they will remain conscious.Is the patient awake during a root canal? ›
The short answer is yes, you'll likely be awake during a root canal. A root canal might sound scary, but these procedures are routine and are used widely to save teeth and reduce pain associated with decay. In most instances, the dentist will apply a local anesthesia to the affected area before getting to work.Is the nerve removed in a root canal? ›
During a root canal, the nerve and pulp are removed, and the inside of the tooth is then cleaned and sealed. It's important to note that a root canal does not kill the tooth. While root canals do remove the nerves inside the tooth, these nerves serve little function in a fully formed tooth.What is the most common reason for failure of root canals? ›
The usual factors which can be attributed to endodontic failure are: Persistence of bacteria (intra-canal and extra-canal) Inadequate filling of the canal (canals that are poorly cleaned and obturated) Overextensions of root filling materials.
In most cases, simple root canals require just one appointment lasting between 30 minutes to just over an hour. However, severe cases may demand 90 minutes or more, or even a second appointment if the dentist or endodontist recommends a permanent filling or crown for the tooth.Is 2 weeks too long to wait for a root canal? ›
You must undergo a root canal within a few weeks to fully eliminate the infection and save your tooth.How much time does a root canal take? ›
How long does a root canal take? Depending on the amount of infection in your tooth, root canal therapy may require one or two appointments. On average, a root canal takes about 30 to 60 minutes to complete. If you are having treatment on a larger tooth with multiple roots, it can take up to an hour and a half.What is a root canal step by step? ›
A root canal is performed when the endodontist removes the infected pulp and nerve in the root of the tooth, cleans and shapes the inside of the root canal, then fills and seals the space. Afterward, your dentist will place a crown on the tooth to protect and restore it to its original function.What are the five phases of endodontic treatment? ›
- STEP 1: DIAGNOSIS. The most important aspect of performing an endodontic procedure is to first correctly diagnose the tooth.
- STEP 2: ACCESS. The next step is access, or creating an opening to the tooth's pulp chamber.
- STEP 3: EXTIRPATION. ...
- STEP 4: DEBRIDEMENT. ...
- STEP 5: DRYING. ...
- STEP 6: OBTURATING. ...
- STEP 7: RESTORATION.
A root canal treatment is simply a four-step process that also involves the removal of the temporary filling. Your endodontist can perform the procedure successfully over two appointments.What is Step 1 of a root canal? ›
Step 1. Local anesthesia is administered via injections to numb the tooth to be treated and the surrounding tissues. If the pulp in a tooth is acutely inflamed, and therefore very painful, it may take a while to get it numb, but your dentist will not start the treatment until it is.Do they drill a hole during root canal? ›
The Root Canal Procedure:
An injection of local anesthesia is used to numb the area, and a hole is drilled through the crown of the tooth into the pulp chamber. The root canal(s) are cleaned of dead tissue and infection using small files.
The root canal procedure is completed in two separate visits to ensure that the tooth is thoroughly cleaned out, sealed up, and protected from further damage.How many injections do you need for a root canal? ›
It will likely take giving you more than one injection (stick of the needle) to adequately anesthetize everything that needs to be numbed up. (One or more pricks for the tooth itself, and then one or more additional ones to anesthetize the surrounding gum tissue.)
GentleWave® Procedure is a minimally invasive alternative to standard root canal treatment. It utilizes Multisonic Ultracleaning® technology. It uses sound waves and a stream of treatment fluid to thoroughly and painlessly remove the damaged tissue and bacteria.What is the last stage of root canal? ›
The final stage of the root canal is restoring your tooth. Because the tooth typically has a large filling or is weakened from extensive decay, it needs to be protected from future damage and returned to normal function. This is usually done by placing a crown — a realistic-looking artificial tooth — over your tooth.When do I need antibiotics after root canal? ›
Antibiotics after a root canal are not necessary. After root canal treatment, it takes a little time to fully recover. Do not eat crispy or hard things after a root canal. It is most important to protect against dental damage after treatment.How big of a deal is a root canal? ›
On average, the cost of a root canal treatment on a front tooth is around $1,000; for bicuspids, it's about $1,100. Molars, in the back, are harder to reach and clean. Root canal treatments in those teeth typically cost the most. Prices are usually $1,300 to $1,600.Do they put screw in root canal? ›
When there is not enough tooth structure remaining for retention after a root canal procedure, a post buildup will be placed to strengthen the tooth. A post is a small metal "screw" that adds strength by connecting the top and bottom halves of a tooth.What do they inject before root canal? ›
Before starting, you will receive a shot of numbing medication to completely deaden the nerves in your mouth. Your dentist also places numbing jelly on your gums prior to injecting the numbing medication to reduce sensitivity when giving the shot.Do I need crown after root canal? ›
The need for a crown is typically determined by the amount of remaining tooth structure after a root canal. Generally, if more than half of the tooth is gone, a crown is indicated to restore the tooth's structural integrity.