Properly caring for your teeth is a process that requires daily effort from you and routine intervention from your dentist. You can prevent the vast majority of dental issues by brushing twice daily, flossing each day, eating a healthy diet, and going to preventative dental checkups every six months. There are times, however, when you develop a dental issue that requires more than a simple checkup from your dentist.
Decay, infection, and injury can all lead to serious issues with your teeth. If you injure a tooth or have advanced decay, it can lead to a procedure called a root canal. A root canal is a dental procedure that can save your tooth and protect you from experiencing more pain in the future.
If you have a tooth that you think may need a root canal, it is a good idea to learn the basics of the root canal procedure as well as information about what happens once you have the procedure. Before you schedule your procedure, get information on root canal cost, potential complications from getting a root canal, what to eat after a root canal, and if there are alternatives to root canal treatment. Gathering up this information will help you find the type of dentist you need and make an informed decision on treatment options.
What Is a Root Canal?
A root canal is a dental procedure that involves removing and replacing the pulp in your tooth. Pulp is soft tissue that is found inside your tooth. The role that the pulp plays is to provide nourishment for your tooth – it helps keep your tooth alive. The pulp can get exposed to infection if you have deep decay or an injured tooth. Infection in the pulp can lead to an abscess in or around the tooth as well as swelling and pain.
What Is the Purpose of a Root Canal?
The overarching purpose of a root canal is to save your tooth. If left untreated, infection in the pulp of your tooth and surrounding areas can lead to tooth loss. The infection can damage your tooth and surrounding bone and eventually make an extraction necessary. A root canal can eliminate the infection or abscess and help your tooth return to a healthy state. It is also important to note that the issues that lead to a root canal can be extremely painful. Saving your tooth and pain relief are both major benefits of getting a root canal when it is necessary.
How Do I Know if I Need a Root Canal?
You cannot determine on your own if you need a root canal. If you are having trouble with one of your teeth – pain, swelling, injury – talk to your dentist about your symptoms. Your dentist will examine your tooth, gums, and the area surrounding your gums to assess the tooth’s condition. In some cases, imaging is also necessary to get a clear idea of the condition of your tooth. Your dentist will let you know if you need a root canal or may recommend that you see a dentist with specialized training in the procedure.
What Type of Dentist Does Root Canals?
The type of dentist that does root canals is called an endodontist. An endodontist specializes in dealing with issues related to dental pulp. Some general dentists offer root canal services for cases that are straightforward. Choosing to have an endodontist do your root canal will give you the most specialized care and the best chances for getting a repair that is long-lasting.
Root Canal Cost
A root canal is an involved dental procedure that typically requires more than one visit to a dentist to complete. You may work with both a general dentist and an endodontist as part of your treatment plan. Because the root canal is a complex procedure, it can be costly.
If you do not have dental insurance, you will have to cover the root canal cost out of pocket. The exact cost of the root canal will vary depending on a number of factors including the severity of the infection and the type of dentist you choose. You may be able to get a root canal – including all the preparation and aftercare – for less than $1,000 out of pocket if it is a straightforward case. For more complex root canals, the cost will go up from there.
You will pay less out of pocket for a root canal if you have dental insurance or some type of dental financing plan. The exact amount depends on the factors outlined above as well as the details of your insurance. If you do not currently have insurance, or are unhappy with your current plan, you can explore the financing and insurance options available through the Smile Generation. You can also check with your dentist about payment options if you cannot cover the cost of the root canal upfront.
It is important to understand the implications of needing a root canal. If your dentist recommends a root canal it means that there is some type of infection in you tooth or in the structures surrounding your tooth. Left untreated, that infection has the potential to spread to other parts of your body and cause serious health issues. You may think that you cannot afford to get a root canal but the truth is that you can’t afford not to in some situations. A root canal can protect you from experiencing a long list of health complications and provide pain relief.
Signs of Infection After a Root Canal
As with any other procedure, there is a possibility of developing an infection after a root canal, although it does not happen often. If at the week mark post oral surgery, you see any signs of infection after your root canal, have your tooth looked at by a dentist. It is important to continue seeing your dentist for routine cleanings and to double-check that your root canal is healing properly. Delayed infections can even happen months after the initial procedure so do not ignore any tenderness or pain around the tooth at any point in time. Other signs that you have an infection after having a root canal are:
- Discolored discharge around the tooth
- Red, swollen or tender tissue that is warm to the touch
- An inexplicable bad taste or smell in your mouth
Root Canal Infection Symptoms
One of the biggest clues for determining if your root canal procedure is either healing properly or possibly infected is by your pain level. Of course, after the root canal therapy, you will be sore and have some manageable discomfort. After about a week, your tooth should begin to feel much better and show evidence of healing. If the pain is becoming worse, this could be a root canal infection symptom. In addition to increased pain a week post-procedure, other root canal infection symptoms to look for include:
- Sensitivity to hot and cold
Do not ignore any root canal infection symptoms. If you suspect that your root canal is infected, give your dentist a call immediately. Infections can cause unnecessary pain and disrupt the healing process.
What to Eat Before & After Root Canal
A few questions you may have as you prepare for a root canal include: Can you eat before a root canal? Can you eat after a root canal? How long after a root canal can you eat? What to eat after a root canal?
Before you go in for a root canal, you can eat normally. Stick with foods that are comfortable for you to eat based on the level of pain you have in the area that needs the root canal. Eating after root canal does require a little more care.
Give yourself some time after the procedure where you simply rest and do not worry about eating right away. Allow the numbness to wear off so you do not risk biting your cheek or tongue and hurt yourself. You will need to stick with foods that are soft until the pain and swelling subsides in the area around where you had the procedure. Examples of foods you can eat after having a root canal include:
- Mashed potatoes
- Apple sauce
Root Canal Alternatives
A root canal is a major dental procedure that requires more than one appointment to complete and typically requires the help of a specialist. Your dentist will consider options other than root canal before recommending the procedure for you. A good question to ask your dentist or endodontist is, ‘What are alternatives to a root canal?’ In some situations, it is possible to treat the infection that is causing you pain with antibiotics or remove the problem completely by extracting the tooth. Your dentist may recommend trying some less invasive alternatives to a root canal before setting you up for the procedure.
Find a Dentist or Endodontist Near You
The right dentist can make all the difference when you need a root canal. A root canal can be a complex procedure and typically requires the help of a specialist. An endodontist is your best option for dealing with any issues related to the pulp inside your tooth.
If you need to find an endodontist near you, the Find a Dentist tool from Smile Generation can help. It is not always easy to differentiate between the different types of dentists when you try and conduct a search on your own. When it comes to specialized procedures like a root canal, it is important to choose a dentist who has the expertise and experience you need. The ‘find a dentist’ tool makes it easy for you to search by specialty and location. You can find an endodontist in your area who provides the services that you need to get your oral health back on track.