Dental Root Canals for Your Teeth

What are Root Canals?

Root canals are tiny canals within your tooth that may become infected. This leads to the pulp inside your tooth also becoming diseased. Either your Cosmetic Dental Surgeon or a specialist in root canal treatment (Endodontist) will remove any infection during the root canal cleaning procedure. The canals are then filled and the tooth receives either a filling or a crown. Crowns are more common in most cases as they add strength to the tooth itself. The procedure itself takes one to two visits.

Who is a candidate for a root canal?

If your tooth is infected or there's severe damage to the pulp, a root canal will be recommended. An untreated cavity is the most common cause for this infection. The pulp inside the tooth can become inflamed from trauma or extensive restorative work. It can even be affected from a series of fillings being applied in a short period of time. This inflammation usually leads to infection. Pain in the tooth which may lead to dental abscess formation is the most common and obvious symptom.

How are Dental Root Canals Performed?

Depending on the number of teeth and severity affected, root canals usually require one to two visits not including any follow-up visits. The area around the affected tooth is numbed; this may be carried out with mild sedation on request. The tooth is then drilled to the pulp area either through the top or the back of the tooth. The length of the root canal is measured using x-rays or electronic imaging devices so that the entire root canal may be cleaned and filled.

All of the diseased pulp in the tooth is removed, and the canal is cleaned out thoroughly with an antiseptic solution. This solution will clean all of the canals within the tooth. The canals are then filled with gutta percha, a flexible plastic material. A temporary filling is then put on top of that. A crown or permanent filling will be done after there has been no sign of infection. Crowns are most common since the root canal procedure weakens the tooth. The crown is usually placed as soon as possible, within a month or less.

Expect two to three days of soreness after the procedure, or longer if the infection in the root canal was severe.

Types of Root Canals

Single rooted teeth towards the front of the mouth generally have a single root canal. Teeth further back in the mouth have multiple roots and multiple root canals.

* Upper molar teeth - 3 roots

* Upper first premolar tooth - 2 roots

* Lower molar teeth - 2 roots

The root canal treatment of these molar teeth is therefore technically more difficult and more expensive.

How much do dental root canals cost?

Expect the cost of a root canal treatment to be about 250-350 per front tooth and about 350-475 for a molar. The costs for a crown or permanent filling are additional.

Pros and Cons of Dental Root Canals

Advantage: Pain is always associated with root canals, but should actually be little to no pain during the procedure. The procedure is not for cosmetics, but rather your health. The infection will only get worse with time if left untreated. The root canal procedure has a success rate of around 92%. The biggest advantage is that the tooth will not need to be extracted in the future.

Disadvantage: Not often, but sometimes infected tissue is pushed through the ends of the root, which will infect the gum. This is easily treated, but is also painful until the infection is cleared up. Canals are irregularly shaped and very curved canals may be technically difficult to clean. If the canal is not accurately measured or branches of the canal were not discovered, this may be related to recurrent infections.

Before & After Photos:
Root Canals
(the photos below demonstrate the improved appearance of crowns which are commonly placed after a root canal)

Before Tooth Crowns

After Tooth Crowns

Surgical Endodontics