What are the signs that indicate a need for Root Canal Therapy (RCT)?
The symptoms of a tooth that needs RCT include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat and/or cold, tenderness to touch and chewing, discoloration of the tooth, and swelling.  There may be drainage and tenderness in the lymph nodes as well, as nearby bone and gingival tissues. However, in some cases, there are no symptoms.

What happens when the pulp tissue becomes infected or injured?
When the pulp tissue becomes infected or injured and can’t repair itself, it dies.  The most common cause of pulp tissue death is a cracked tooth or a deep cavity.  Both of these problems can let germs or bacteria enter the pulp tissue and start an infection inside the tooth.  Left without treatment, the infection spreads from the inside of the tooth, down the canal, and out into the jawbone.  Here, a “pus-pocket,” called an abscess, can form.  An abscess can cause damage to the bone surrounding the infected tooth and can eventually spread and infect the surrounding teeth.

Why does the pulp have to be removed?
If the infected pulp is not removed, reoccurring pain and swelling can result.  Certain byproducts of the infection can injure your jawbone.  Without treatment, your tooth may have to be removed; in some cases, the surrounding teeth may be damaged as well.

What does the treatment involve?
Treatment often involves one to three visits.  During treatment, Drs. Horsley and Walker or your endodontist (a dentist who specializes in root canal therapy) removes the diseased pulp tissue.  The pulp chamber and root canal of the tooth are then cleaned and sealed to prevent reinfection.

A step-by-step overview of Root Canal Therapy:

  1. First, an opening is made through the top of the tooth, exposing the pulp chamber.
  2. The pulp tissue is then removed, and the root canals are cleaned and shaped to accommodate a filling material.
  3. Medications may be used in the pulp chamber and root canals to help get rid of germs and infection. You might also be given an antibiotic to help control the infection, especially if that infection has spread beyond the tooth and into your jawbone.
  4. A temporary filling may be placed in the opening that was made in the tooth or your dentist may leave the tooth open for a few days to allow the infection to drain out.
  5. The pulp chamber and canals are then filled and sealed.
  6. If an endodontist performs the treatment, they will recommend that you return to your dentist for the final step.
  7. In the final step, a crownis usually placed over the tooth to protect your tooth for years to come.

Will I feel pain during or after the procedure?
Many endodontic procedures are performed to relieve the pain of toothaches caused by pulp tissue inflammation or infection.  With modern techniques and anesthetic, most patients report that they are comfortable during the procedure.  For the first few days after treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure.  This discomfort can be relieved with over-the-counter or prescription medications.  Follow your dentist’s instructions carefully.  Your tooth may continue to feel slightly different from your other teeth for some time after your endodontic treatment is completed. However, if you have severe pain or pressure that lasts more than a few days, call your dentist.

How much does Root Canal Therapy cost?
The cost depends on how complex the problem is and which tooth is affected.  Molars are more difficult to treat, and therefore the fee is usually more.  Most dental insurance policies provide some coverage for root canal therapy.  Generally, root canal therapy and the restoration needed after are less expensive than the alternative of having the tooth extracted.  After an extraction, the missing tooth must be replaced with a bridge or implant to restore chewing function and prevent adjacent teeth from shifting.  If a tooth is can be saved by root canal therapy, it usually saves you time and money compared to other treatments.

Will my tooth need any special care or additional treatment after my root canal therapy?
You should not chew or bite with the treated tooth until you have had it restored by your dentist.  The unrestored tooth is susceptible to fractures, so you should see your dentist for a full restoration as soon as possible.  You will need to continue practicing good oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and seeing your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.  Most teeth that have had root canal therapy last as long as other natural teeth.  In a few cases, a tooth that has undergone root canal therapy does not heal or the pain continues. At this point, other treatment options can be utilized.  Occasionally, the tooth may become reinfected months or even years after successful treatment.  When this occurs, the options are to try and save the tooth by redoing the endodontic procedure, or extracting it if needed.

Can all teeth that have an infection or injury be treated with root canal therapy?
Most teeth can be treated.  Occasionally, a tooth can’t be saved because the root canals are not accessible, the root is severely fractured, the tooth does not have adequate bone support, or the tooth cannot be restored.  However, advances in endodontics are making it possible to save teeth that even a few years ago would have been lost.  When endodontic treatment is not effective, surgery may be able to save the tooth.

How long will my root canal last?
Your restored tooth could last a lifetime if you continue to care for your teeth and gums.  However, regular checkups are necessary.  As long as the root(s) of a treated tooth are nourished by the tissues around it, your tooth will remain healthy.

Most of the time, a root canal is a relatively simple procedure involving one to three visits to Harvest Dental and little or no discomfort. Best of all, it can save your tooth and your smile! Please call our office at 469-812-7100 to arrange your root canal in Farmersville and Van Alstyne, Texas.