Root Canal Procedure at Bihary Family Dental in Altoona, PA

Defining Root Canal Problems Requiring Therapy

Dentists perform root canal treatments to repair and save an infected tooth or one that has internal decay. The words ‘root canal’ describes the cavity inside the center of the tooth that contains pulp and nerves. The root canal procedure removes the pulp and affected or damaged nerve tissue within a tooth’s pulp chamber.

Facial trauma resulting in a crack or chip, tooth decay, repeated dental procedures, and/or large fillings, can all cause irritation, inflammation, or infection of the nerve and pulp of a tooth. Once damage occurs to the tooth pulp and nerve tissue it is no longer useful. These cells can breed additional bacteria that further decay the tooth.

By removing the inside contents, we can then clean and seal the tooth. With less chance of infection, teeth and gums are less likely to encounter further pain and abscess from infection. For information specific to your dental health, make a consultation appointment during office hours at (814) 317-5349 or contact us online.

Signs That You May Need a Root Canal

There may or may not be clear or urgent signs to indicate the need of root canal. Dr. Bihary will examine, and use x-ray to take a look inside the gum, to determine the need for root canal. Some signs may include:

• Discoloration (a darkening) of the tooth
• Persistent or recurring pimple on the gums
• Prolonged sensitivity/pain to heat or cold temperatures (after the hot or cold has been removed)
• Severe toothache pain upon chewing or application of pressure
• Swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums
• Tooth Pain

How Bad is an Abscess?

Some people try to live with dental pain, often letting serious problems go unchecked. This can result in infection, pain, and abscessed teeth and gums. An abscess is a pus-filled pocket that forms at the end of the roots of a tooth.

Other problems an infected tooth can cause are:

• Swelling and nerve pain that can spread to other areas of the face, neck, or head.
• Loss of bone around the tip of the root
• Drainage of puss and blood, coming out from the root and gum
• A hole through the side of the tooth, draining into the gums or through the cheek.

Delays in treating serious dental problems generally result in more extensive work, like a root canal. Know that root canal therapy may take more than one office visit to complete. Depending on severity and treatment steps to save the tooth, the dentist may perform further work of a cosmetic nature. Dr. Bihary will review these possibilities with you.

What to Expect with a Root Canal Procedure

A general dentist may choose to perform the root canal procedure. Depending on the amount and severity of the work, patients may be referred to an endodontist, who specializes in the human dental pulp and nerves of the tooth. The dentist or endodontist will usually use a local anesthesia to numb the mouth area where he or she will work, which is more for your comfort.

Depending on who you ask, root canal procedures have a reputation of being painful. They can really be more of an inconvenience because of the repeated visits and scraping involved. Most people report that the procedure itself is no more painful than having a filling placed.

While the local anesthesia takes effect, the assistant prepares the area around the tooth to keep it dry and saliva-free while the doctor works. They may place a bit of rubber in addition to using the suction tool. The doctor drills a hole into the tooth and removes the pulp, decayed nerve tissue, and any other debris or bacteria using files that scrape out the sides of the canals. Water or sodium hypochlorite is used to flush away the debris periodically during scraping.

The doctor seals the tooth after cleaning. Based on the condition of your tooth and surrounding gum, the dentist may need to put medication inside. If complete, the dentist may seal the hole the same day cleaning takes place. However, if treatment requires additional appointments, expect to have a temporary filling to keep out saliva and food between visits.

For filling the tooth interior, the doctor uses a sealer paste and places a rubber compound into the root canal. Filling material then covers the hole. The doctor will also review the final step for restoring your tooth, depending on its overall condition. This may include a crown, crown and post, or other arrangement that will protect it from further damage or breaking.

After the Root Canal - Temporary Fillings & Success Rate

Patients may expect some level of sensitivity at the tooth site and surrounding area for a few days after the root canal procedure. This is especially true if pain or infection existed before the visit. Pain medication available over-the-counter generally relieves the discomfort, and most people return to normal activities the next day.

If a temporary filling is holding things in suspense until the next visit or you are waiting for a crown that will strengthen your tooth, it may be best to chew less on the tooth undergoing repair. This way, there is less chance of complicating or breaking the tooth. Patients may maintain regular oral care of brushing and flossing until you see the dentist again.

Root canal treatments carry a 95% success rate, and repaired teeth can go on to last a lifetime. The use of a crown or other restoration will make root canal work less obvious.

Are There Dangers or Complications?

While a root canal is done in effort to clean, seal, and save a tooth, there can be a new infection afterwards, caused by any of the following:

• Not scraping a root, which then carries infection
• An unseen crack in the root of the tooth
• Defective or inadequate restoration, allowing bacteria to recontaminate
• Breakdown of the inner sealing material, allowing bacteria to recontaminate

In some cases, additional treatment, scraping, and cleaning of the tooth may occur. If needed, an endodontist may do surgery to try to save the tooth, where he or she will do a root-end resection. The apicoectomy procedure relieves infection in the bony area at the end of your tooth that continues to experience inflammation after treatment.

How Much is a Root Canal?

Actual cost of the procedure depends on the severity of the work performed. Most insurance policies will cover part or most of the endodontic treatment. An average estimate for the root canal cost for the treatment done by a general dentist, which does not include the restoration or cosmetic work afterward, depending on the tooth, can be from $500 to $1,500. Specialist work done by an endodontist may have fees that run 50% higher.

Are There Any Other Alternatives to Root Canals?

The doctor will review your options with you. Root canals are preferred to save your natural teeth because they are important in maintaining proper nutrition. If there is too much damage, the only alternative is to extract the tooth and replace it with a bridge, implant, or removable partial denture to restore chewing function.

The extraction and use of these other alternatives can end up being more expensive than root canal, usually require more treatment and healing time, and include additional work to adjacent teeth and supporting tissues to keep those teeth from shifting over time.

Proactive patients can prevent the need for root canal by proper dental care and oral hygiene. Wearing a mouth guard effectively reduces trauma-related mouth injuries caused by sporting activities. Talk with Dr. Bihary about the steps you can take to prevent root canal today!

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