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Richard L. Rausch, DDS
1 Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 2201, New York, NY 10020

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Uncover the Truth About Root Canal Treatment

If your dentist has recommended a root canal, you may be contemplating getting a second opinion. After all, root canals are horrific, and no one wants to go through that, right? Not necessarily. Root canals were first performed in 1766, and at that time, the procedure probably earned its reputation due to the lack of dental expertise, pain medication, and surgical instruments. However, modern dentistry has come a long way in the intervening several hundred years, and root canals are now relatively painless procedures with a short recovery time. If you need a root canal, it’s best to get it because if you procrastinate, the tooth may require extraction, and then you’ll need to replace it with an implant. Most assuredly, any pain experienced during the procedure will be far less than the pain you’re currently experiencing.

What Are the Reasons Why You Might Need a Root Canal?

Root canals are recommended when the pulp is damaged or decayed beyond the point that it can be salvaged. Often, a root canal is the only way to save a tooth, and more than 15 million root canals are performed annually in the U.S. Seeing your dentist at the first sign of pain or infection is the best way to prevent the need for a root canal. Good oral hygiene starts with at least annual dental checkups, and if you get them, you’ll most likely not need a root canal. Often, a dentist can detect and prevent a problem early so that it won’t escalate.

What Ten Questions Are Most Frequently Asked About Root Canals?

If you need a root canal and you have questions about it, ask your dentist the following questions during your next appointment:

  1. Why am I a good candidate for a root canal?
  2. How much pain will I experience during and after the procedure?
  3. Is there a better method than a root canal to treat this problem?
  4. What are the steps in a root canal?
  5. How much time does the root canal procedure take?
  6. What anesthesia options are available, and which do you recommend?
  7. Are there any risks involved in the procedure?
  8. How much does the entire root canal procedure cost?
  9. Does insurance cover any or all of the cost?
  10. Will my tooth be healthier and stronger after the procedure?

We recommend that you contact your insurance provider before you come to our office, so you know the details of your coverage. If your insurance doesn’t cover all the costs and you need financial assistance, ask us about our financing options.

What Are the Warning Signs That I Need a Root Canal?

If you need a root canal, a problem has been developing for a while; it’s not an overnight development. If you notice any of the following, you need to schedule a dental visit without delay. These are some of the indicators that you may need a root canal:

  • A specific tooth that has discolored or dark areas
  • Red, swollen, inflamed, or sore gums
  • Persistent severe toothache
  • Aching tooth with a small bump on the gums
  • Temperature sensitivity that doesn’t abate
  • Sore gums and aching teeth
  • Worsening tooth decay

If you notice any of the above signs, you should immediately make a dental appointment. If you attend to the indicators promptly, you may be able to save your tooth. Otherwise, it may need to be extracted and replaced with an implant.

What’s the Root Canal Procedure?

Getting a root canal is a multi-step procedure that will encompass a month or two, depending on several factors. Although you may have a slightly different experience due to your unique needs, you can generally expect the following:

  1. When you notice a problem with your tooth and make an appointment with your dentist, you have begun the root canal procedure.
  2. At your appointment, your dentist will examine your teeth and gums to determine the source of the problem. If you need a root canal, then you’ll embark on the second step.
  3. Your dentist will need to remove the pulpy interior to access the interior of your tooth. To gain access, they’ll drill a small hole in the top of the tooth and remove the root through the hole.
  4. After the root has been removed, they’ll clean and disinfect the canals, then fill them with gutta-percha or a similar substance. This helps maintain the structural integrity of the tooth.
  5. After the canals have been packed, your dentist will place a temporary filling over the hole, then order your permanent crown.
  6. When we receive your crown, you’ll return to the office, and we’ll place it on the tooth using a very strong, permanent cement. Your root canal procedure is now complete!

We recommend making an appointment for your crown placement right after the root canal has been completed.

Are There Dos and Don’ts for Caring for a Tooth That Has Had a Root Canal?

There are always dos and don’ts after a procedure, and a dental procedure is no different. By following your dentist’s aftercare instructions carefully, you’ll expedite the healing process and reduce the likelihood of a problem developing.

For the first few days, you’ll probably experience tingling and minor soreness around the site. This is normal, and it’s your body indicating that it’s healing. You shouldn’t experience excessive pain, pressure, or bleeding, however, and any discomfort should be manageable with over-the-counter analgesics. If you experience extreme symptoms, call your dentist because you may have developed a problem.

Aftercare Instructions Continued

After your root canal procedure is complete, you’ll receive aftercare instructions that you should follow to the letter, so you avoid complications. Although you may have additional specific instructions, overall, you should adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. Refrain from chewing anything until all the numbness has worn off. Otherwise, you risk biting your cheek or tongue, but you won’t be aware of it because the nerves aren’t active.
  2. Refrain from chewing or biting near the treated tooth until it has completely healed and your permanent crown is in place. If you’re unsure, ask your dentist when you can resume biting and chewing near your root canal.
  3. Follow your dentist’s guidelines exactly, no matter how tempting it is to do otherwise. This is especially true for your medication.
  4. Continue following your good oral hygiene regimen for the rest of your mouth, but avoid the treated tooth until it’s completely healed and your permanent crown is installed.
  5. Call your dentist without delay if you experience any adverse reactions, even if you think the reaction is minor. Adverse reactions can include allergic reactions, excessive pressure or pain, swelling, nausea, or any other symptoms.

Make Sure You Visit With the Dentist Again!

The root canal procedure was the first half of restoring health and functionality to your tooth. The second half is the crown installation, so schedule the appointment for that procedure as soon as your root canal is complete.

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Richard L. Rausch, DDS

1 Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 2201, New York, NY 10020

(646) 863-8184