In today’s world, root canals are associated with the absolute worst aspects of dentistry. The term typically calls to mind images of frightening tools and painful procedures.
Luckily, the real procedure is far different from this very skewed, historical perspective. As the dentists at Mint Dental in Anchorage explain, root canals are actually a healing procedure that helps get rid of pain rather than causing it. Root Canals, also known as endodontic therapy, can help save your natural teeth and help you avoid dental bridges, dentures, and implants.
What is an Endodontist?
Endodontics is a specialized dental field that often refer to themselves as specialist in saving teeth. While all endodontists are dentists, only about three percent of dentists have the extra training and education to call themselves endodontists.
Thanks to the extra two to three years of specialized training they receive after dental school, endodontists have specialized knowledge with regards to diagnosing, treating tooth pain, and dealing with the underlying infection.
What is a Root Canal?
Root canals are very specialized procedures designed to treat badly damaged teeth. Normally, the soft insides and nerves (known as the pulp) of a tooth are protected by a hard exterior, but, in cases of extreme decay or infection, the pulp of a tooth can become damaged. The pulp contains all the nerves and sensitive tissue in the tooth.
Left untreated, the infection can cause enormous pain and spread to the gums and tissues surrounding the teeth, eventually eating away at the bone in your mouth. Early detection and treatment is vital to prevent more serious long term issues.
Unfortunately, infections of this type can’t just be treated with antibiotics. A dentist or endodontist will need to physically get into the pulp of the tooth and clear out the infected tissue. The root canal, or endodontic therapy procedure, does just that.
Root Canal Procedure
During the procedure, the dentist carefully drills through the outer layers of the tooth until he or she can see the damaged pulp. The nerves and pulp are carefully removed, and the remaining space is cleaned, filled, and sealed off to prevent any further infection from developing.
After making sure all the infection is eradicated, the dentist completes the procedure by filling the opening, leaving the tooth just as functional as before and preventing any further infections.
You might be thinking, isn’t removing the nerves of a tooth a bad idea? Actually, it’s not really a big issue at all. The important role of the nerves is to direct the tooth while it grows in.
For fully developed adult teeth, the nerves don’t play a big role at all. They help the teeth detect the presence or absence of heat, meaning that the absence of the nerves doesn’t actually change the day-to-day functions of the tooth. Patients who go through a root canal can return to chewing and eating normally.
When Do You Need a Root Canal?
Root canals are the ultimate healing treatment for dental patients, but many patients might not even realize that something is wrong. Because it’s very hard for a layperson to detect signs of problems in the pulp, most people don’t find out there’s a problem until they visit the dentist.
Here’s where you can get a step ahead of your fellow dental patients. We, at Mint Dental Alaska, have compiled a list of common symptoms seen in patients who require root canals. These include:
- Severe toothaches or pain when chewing;
- Temperature sensitivity (i.e. pain when the tooth comes into contact with hot or cold substances);
- Discoloration in the tooth;
- Swollen and tender gums;
- Pimples on the gums.
While the presence of these symptoms might not necessarily point to nerve damage as a cause, other problems like a normal cavity or like gum disease could cause similar symptoms, they definitely mean that you should visit a dentist to get a closer look at the situation.
Cost of a Root Canal
Root canal cost, just like many dental procedures vary in prices. Front teeth are generally less expensive to fix than bicuspids or molars. According to TheSimpleDollar the easiest answer is right around $1000 dollars.
In many cases Dental Insurance will cover a significant portion of this procedure, anywhere from 50-80% depending on your specific plan.
It is important to get a root canal done as soon as your dentist tells you need the procedure. The damage will not get better on its own, but can definitely get worse. An infection in your tooth left unchecked could spread throughout the body and cause you serious health issues.
Root Canal Consultation
If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, or if you just want more information regarding root canals, contact a Mint Dental Alaska dentist to get a professional’s input! Dental issues are notoriously hard to diagnose, so only a certified dentist can exactly pinpoint what might be wrong with your teeth.
You can see one of our dentists by calling (907) 646-8672. Contact us today to set up an appointment!