knowledge for peace of mind
Have you been told you might need a root canal? Root canals have a bad reputation, but they are a common, relatively painless and effective treatment. A root canal is an experience similar to a routine filling, and can relieve your pain and save your tooth…
what is a root canal?
A root canal is a treatment designed to eliminate bacteria from an infected root canal, which houses the nerve and blood vessel of a tooth. During a root canal, the inflamed or infected nerve and blood vessel is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned, disinfected and then filled and sealed.
you might need
a root canal if you have…
An infection at the center of a tooth can cause a great deal of pain, hinder your eating and drinking and ultimately lead to the removal of your tooth. A root canal treatment is not painful and by eliminating the infection, can save a tooth that might otherwise have to be removed completely.
- severe pain while chewing or biting
- pimples on the gums
- chipped or cracked tooth
- lingering sensitivity to cold or hot, even after the sensation has been removed
- spontaneous throbbing pain
- swollen or tender gums
- deep decay or darkening of the gums
While you're familiarizing yourself with this procedure, make sure you also visit our section on how we treat you during your care with a range of nice-to-have and need-to-have patient comforts.
Distraction Methods – Therapeutic interventions – Pain management
what to expect during a root canal
Having a root canal typically involves one to two appointments at the office. Read on for timings and how to prepare.
At your visit
Before having root canal treatment, you’ll usually be given a local anesthetic. This means the procedure should be painless and no more unpleasant than having a filling.
To treat the infection in the root canal, the bacteria need to be removed from the inside of your tooth. Beneath the white enamel of your tooth and a hard layer called dentin, there is a soft tissue called pulp. This tissue contains blood vessels, nerves and tissue which help grow the root of your tooth when it’s developing. A fully developed tooth can survive without the pulp because the tooth will be nourished by the tissue surrounding it.
After a small opening is made in the tooth, very small instruments clean the pulp from the canal and disinfect the area.
In most cases the inflamed tissue near the tooth will heal naturally.
advice & tips
preparing yourself for a root canal
A modern root canal treatment is nothing like it used to be! It’s very similar to a routine filling and can usually be completed in or or two appointments, depending on the condition of your tooth and your personal situation. Getting a root canal is relatively painless and extremely effective.
- Prepare your schedule after the appointment accordingly, as your mouth will feel numb for a few hours after your appointment.
- We encourage all of our patients to keep current with their dental cleaning/exams. We do not advise waiting for symptoms to develop before seeking care as this often represents a worsened oral health issue.
after your root canal…
Although you’re likely to be numb for 2-4 hours after your treatment, most patients are able to return to work or school following a root canal.
- Refrain from eating until the numbness is completely gone.
- Practice good oral hygiene at home–brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and using good flossing techniques.
You may notice…
It may take a few days for discomfort and sensitivity to go away after the procedure–particularly if you were suffering from pain before the treatment. Please contact the office if you have any concerns.
root canal faqs
answering your questions about root canal…
Will a root canal hurt?
A modern root canal is similar to having a other common dental procedures like a filling so the biggest discomfort will come from the anesthetic applied and potentially from having your mouth open for the treatment. Having said that we practice techniques to eliminate as much discomfort as possible (see our section on patient comfort).
Our office starts with the strongest topical anesthetic to reduce the chance of feeling anything during the numbing process. Then we will numb the tooth and surrounding tissues with local anesthesia so you don’t feel any pain during the procedure.
In addition to our topical anesthetic, we utilize a painless oral injection system, DentalVibe®, to reduce any discomfort during the numbing process. DentalVibe is a unique tool that can help alleviate dental fear and anxiety, allowing you to undergo the treatments needed to maintain a healthy mouth. DentalVibe provides gentle vibration to the site of the dental injection that overloads the nerve that sends pain signals to the brain so you don’t feel the injection. Most patients who have a DentalVibe injection aren’t even aware they’ve had an injection! The vibrations disperse the anesthesia once it’s injected to allow it to get to work even faster…plus the sound of the vibration creates an added distraction!
DentalVibe is especially helpful in reducing dental fear among children. Many adult patients feel they wouldn’t have developed dental fears if they had this tool when they were younger.
You might experience some mild discomfort for a few days after the procedure. We can advise you on ways to handle this.
Will a root canal take care of an abscess?
Yes, a root canal is one way to treat a bacterial infection that causes an abscess. This is an effective treatment that could save the life of your tooth.
Is a root canal covered by insurance?
Insurance plans vary widely with their coverage and will depend on the policy you have. Give us a call at 480-608-5444 and we will help you determine your coverage.
If you do not have insurance or your treatment is not covered by your insurance, we offer a cash discount. See more financial information on our payments page.
How long is a root canal appointment?
This depends on the condition of your tooth. We will give you closer guidance on this when scheduling your appointment, but roughly plan for 1-2 visits that take 90 minutes each.
Is it better to pull a tooth than have a root canal?
If there is an option to save your natural teeth, this is always the preferred option. A root canal treatment can eliminate the need for artificial replacements for extracted teeth. Root canals have a high success rate and many teeth with this treatment last a lifetime. Replacements for extracted teeth will cause more time in treatment and could result in additional procedures.
Have more questions? Please call us at 480-608-5444 or email us and we’ll be able to talk you through the process.
Tips & advice from Dr. Silverman:
Wondering why you have pain after treatment, when you didn’t before?