While a root canal is not a very pleasant experience, it also isn’t the end of the world, and it isn't as bad as what most people think! Lots of people have root canal treatments every day, and while you might feel a little sore, after the procedure your decay free mouth will be feeling much better than before.
A root canal is a treatment that helps to save teeth that are extremely decayed or have become infected due to a long-standing cavity. The nerve and the pulp are taken out of the tooth so the inside of the tooth can be cleaned, and then later sealed. This procedure stops the infection spreading into the sensitive tissue around the tooth and forming into abscesses.
Do I need a root canal?
If you have been wondering if you might need a root canal, the best way to find out is to visit your dentist. However, there are some signs that can indicate the need for root canal therapy. These include:
- Intense pain when chewing or putting pressure on the tooth
- Extreme and lasting sensitivity to heat and cold
- Darkening of the suspected tooth
- Red, swollen, and tender gums surrounding the tooth
- A recurring or persistent pimple on the gum area
If these symptoms are sounding too familiar, then it is best to visit your dentist before the situation further worsens. There is no need to be anxious. Just remember that you are taking a positive step towards a pain-free, and healthy mouth.
What can I expect during a root canal procedure?
Dentists do root canal procedures all the time, so while technical, they know the process inside out. Knowing just what is happening with all those tools will also likely make you feel a little more comfortable when the procedure is underway.
Step 1: The area is anaesthetised
To minimise your pain and discomfort the dentist will apply a numbing gel to your gum near the tooth where the procedure will be performed. Once your gum is numb, the dentist will inject a local anaesthetic to remove all sensation from the sensitive area. While the needle might give a little sting, it won’t last long, and you will be ready for your procedure.
Step 2: Removing the infected pulp from the tooth
Once your dentist is certain that the entire tooth is numb, they will make an incision in the top of the tooth to expose the infected and damaged pulp inside. Using specialised tools, they will carefully remove it, cleaning out all the canals and pathways of your tooth.
Step 3: Apply antibiotics
Often, once the pulp has been taken out, the dentist will put a coat of antibiotics on the entire area to further eradicate the infection and to prevent it from reoccurring. You might also be prescribed an oral antibiotic to take after your procedure.
Step 4: Filling and sealing the tooth
Lastly, your dentist will fill and seal the tooth. At the end of the procedure, they will close the small opening in the top of the tooth with a temporary material that stops the canal from being damaged by the saliva in your mouth.
Is getting a root canal painful?
Most people are surprised at how unpainful a root canal is. The treatment actually eliminates the pain that the tooth infection causes and the local anaesthetic numbs the entire area so that the procedure is painless.
How long does it take to get a root canal?
As you can see, the process is fairly straightforward and designed to give you lasting oral health. The whole process will take between 1-3 visits to the dentist, and the main procedure is generally between 30 minutes and 90 minutes.
How much will a root canal cost?
A key reason that people put off root canal surgery is due to the price, so it is only natural to wonder how much this procedure will set you back. That being said, there is not one set price. Instead, cost depends on a variety of factors including the number of canals in your tooth need to be filled, and if a crown for the top of the tooth is required.
At Australian Dentists Clinic – Box Hill we are committed to providing accurate estimates for all treatments. For a root canal:
- The initial consultation fee will be approximately $60, and there could be additional charges if you require other tests, such as x-rays
- Usually, root canal treatments on your incisors, or front teeth costs between $200 and $250
- For a root canal on your pre-molars, or side teeth, the cost is generally between $250 and $350
- A root canal on a molar or back tooth is generally between $250 and $400
It is important to remember that no two root canals are identical, and some cases are complex. If you require multiple canals filled or retreatment, these estimates will vary.
Does insurance cover the cost of a root canal?
Often the extras cover of your private health insurance will provide a rebate for root canal treatments, so be sure to check with your health fund before your appointment. We can provide you with the specific codes you need to check exactly what is covered.
Are there any risks?
While the key goal of a root canal is to save your tooth, occasionally if the damage is already too deep, or the tooth is too frail, the tooth may need to be extracted. In addition, if all the infected pulp isn’t removed, the tooth may develop a painful abscess.
However, these risks are much less than the risk of leaving the tooth untreated.
What happens if you leave a root canal untreated?
If you do nothing the infection will spread via the roots of your tooth into your gums and jaw, causing you severe pain and abscess formation. You might have to have the tooth extracted. Sometimes, inflammation of the whole body can occur and can heighten risk for other dangerous conditions like brain abscesses and heart disease.
Do I need to take antibiotics after a root canal?
Once your anesthetic wears off, you may experience some throbbing in the treated area for a day or two. Antibiotics may be prescribed to suppress bacteria and the painful symptoms of nerve damage, alongside other medications such as ibuprofen. Your dentist will choose the best course of treatment with you after your procedure.
How long does it take to recover from a root canal? Can I eat right away?
After a root canal treatment, recovery time is minimal, and you will be feeling better in just a few days. It is best to wait until the numbness has worn off until you start eating again, to avoid biting your cheek and tongue. You also need to be careful not to apply too much pressure to the tooth so that you don’t damage it before it is fully restored.