What is a Root Canal and Who Needs This Procedure?
Hearing that a root canal is a required treatment for a specific dental complaint often causes initial stress and upset for the patient. That is because for decades people have associated the root canal procedure with pain, inconvenience, and expense. Here EDP Dental Plans provide an overview of this very common procedure to separate myth from reality and to help patients realize that there is no cause for worry anymore.
What is a root canal? It is a dental procedure that treats and saves a damaged or decayed tooth. During a root canal, the nerve and pulp of a tooth are removed. While some level of pain is usually associated with root canals, that sensation actually stems from the infection which occurs when a tooth has been damaged or has decayed. Root canals usually take more than one visit to complete. If a tooth is infected, the dentist or endodontist will treat the infection before sealing the tooth.
What to Expect When the Diagnosis Requires Root Canal
Sudden pain and inflammation may have driven a patient to visit their dentist between routine checkups and cleanings. The diagnosis is often an infection within the tooth, the recommended procedure to remediate this condition is a root canal. While a general dentist may diagnose the issue, the procedure is performed by a dental specialist, an Endodontist. Trained to specialize in disorders of the dental pulp, Endodontists treat infections of the soft, innermost area of the tooth, where blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue are housed within the walls of a tooth’s harder outer layers, the dentin and the enamel. The root canals are actual chambers within a tooth’s roots. Infections enter the pulp cavity usually through a cracked or decayed enamel layer. This infection soon inundates a tooth, and follows the root canal right down into the jaw. The resultant pain can be intense, and soon drives patients to see their dentist, usually in time to save the tooth by undergoing a root canal procedure by an Endodontist. For those who have been prescribed this treatment, here is what to expect. The Endodontist’s surgery suite will look just like any dentist’s, with a comfortable chair that reclines, and adjustable, overhead lighting.
What is a Root Canal and What Does it Entail?
A root canal is not a lengthy procedure; here are the steps:
- First local anesthesia is administered and a dental dam, that creates a sterile environment and prevents the infection from spreading, is applied.
- Next a small hole is drilled to allow access to the pulp chamber and root canals. All diseased and infected tissue is removed, and the area thoroughly disinfected.
- Following disinfection, a root canal filler is prepared and compressed into the canals to seal them. This step is critical to prevent a recurrence. If a tooth root is considered too fragile, a metal post will be placed inside one of the canals to secure it.
- The access hole is sealed also, and the dental dam removed. The endodontist may prescribe an antibiotic to some patients to ensure that all infection has been remediated.
- Generally patients may feel some residual soreness, however there is little, if any, pain associated with the root canal procedure today.
That leaves the expense of having a root canal procedure to contend with. Those with dental insurance may be surprised to learn that procedures performed by dental specialists are not always covered and that they are responsible for bearing the full expense. While not dental insurance, EDP Dental Plans offer our members 25% off the regular charge for this procedure, from the specialist our member selects from our extensive network of highly qualified dental professionals. We invite those wondering ‘what is a root canal and how will I afford it?” to learn more by contacting us at (800) 777-1085.