Root canal treatment is a type of dental procedure that addresses the roots of teeth. Also known as an endodontic treatment, root canal procedures address nerve damage, tooth pulp damage, or other injuries or diseases of the teeth that cause pain, infection, and loss of teeth. A root canal helps save not only the health of a single tooth, but surrounding teeth, as well as providing pain relief and return of chewing function.
When most people hear about someone having a root canal procedure, they cringe. However, patients should know that root canal surgery is no more painful than having a typical filling. Contrary to popular belief, root canal surgeries do not require a multitude of visits to a dentist, but in most cases can be performed in 1 to 2 office visits.
Another popular misconception is that root canal surgery involves removing the root of the tooth. Actually, the damaged or diseased pulp from inside the tooth is removed during such a procedure, and then filled with another substance to replace it.
Root Canal Treatment
Patients undergoing a root canal treatment will first need to have x-rays taken to determine the condition and shape of the root canal(s) involved as well as to determine the signs or spread of infection to surrounding teeth or bone tissue.
During a root canal treatment, the dentist will numb the tooth or area using local or injectable anesthetic, depending on the anxiety level as well as pain tolerance of the patient. A piece of rubber is slipped over the tooth to isolate it from neighboring teeth. The tooth is then drilled and a hole created through which the dentist will be able to remove infected or decayed material from inside the tooth. The tooth is then flushed with antiseptic solution.
In some cases, a dentist may ask the patient to wait a week or two before returning to the dental office for tooth filling, to make sure that all decayed or infectious materials have been removed. In the meantime, the tooth will be fitted with a temporary crown.
The tooth will be refilled with a sealer paste or rubber compound, and the original drill hole is filled using typical dental filler materials. At this time, additional restoration of the tooth may be initiated, or a crown fitted to help protect the tooth as well as preventing it from breaking and help restore full function.
The main function of a root canal treatment is to remove damaged pulp from inside the tooth. If decay or bacteria-filled pulp remains in the tooth, the bacteria may spread into an infectious sac or abscessed tooth that may spread beyond the tooth and into the jaw and other areas of the face, neck or head, sometimes even the brain. Damaged or decayed tooth pulp also causes bone loss around the root of the tooth and may result in loss of the tooth as well as surrounding teeth.
Benefits of A Root Canal
Any individual suffering tooth damage caused by decayed or infectious tooth pulp will benefit from a root canal procedure. Root canals have an approximately 95% success rate and repairs often last a lifetime. Pain is minimal and may be treated with over the counter pain medications. Individuals who have undergone a root canal are often able to return to work immediately. Restoring full function of teeth, preventing spread of infection and relieving pain are the main focus of root canal techniques.
How Much Does a Root Canal Cost?
In the United States, a root canal may cost between $350 and $600 for a front tooth, or up to $500 to $850 for back molars. Endodontists who specialize in tooth root issues may charge up to 50% more for these procedures. However, travelers visiting foreign locations such as Costa Rica may pay $200 for root canal, while a visitor to Mexico may pay roughly $185, and travelers to India will pay an average of about $150.
Who Performs a Root Canal?
A root canal is performed by a dentist or endodontist, a dentist that specializes in the cause, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of injuries or disease processes that involve the pulp or nerves of teeth.
When looking for a dentist, it is important to make sure they are certified. Certification is offered through standards of the American Dental Association or other accredited dental association sub-specialty certification. When choosing a dentist in the United States, for whatever reason, check to make sure they have no complaints registered with the American Dental Association or the Better Business Bureau.
Other countries typically require membership or certification through Dental Colleges. For example, in India, a dentist should be certified through the Dental Council of India. In Singapore, a dentist should be registered with the College of Dental Surgeons. In Australia, dentists should be registered with the Royal Australian College of Dental Surgeons. Take the time to ask or find out about certification requirements any country you're interested in.
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