When dental pain becomes unbearable, the cause is usually on the inside of the tooth. In this case, the dentist can make the diagnosis of an acute inflammation of the dental nerve (Pulpitis) and death (necrosis) of the nerve of the tooth. In this case it will be necessary to undertake a root canal procedure. Root canal therapy, also called endodontic treatment consists of cleaning and disinfecting the root canal. Inside a tooth, there is a duct system divided into several branches containing living tissue (pulp) consisting of nerves and vessels. The outer part protects the tooth. When the solid tooth is damaged or destroyed, the pulp may become inflamed. Typical signs of inflammation of the pulp are; dental pain when chewing, increased sensitivity to temperature, pain or swelling at the root of the tooth, and a grayish color of the crown of the tooth. Bacteria from untreated tooth decay, cracks or accidents are almost always involved.
One possible consequence is the destruction of the dental pulp, causing a “dead tooth”. When bacteria spreads to the inside of the tooth toward the jaw bone, our own body responds with an encapsulation (granuloma or cyst), or by the formation of pus at the tip of the root (abscess). It is essential to remove the infected pulp to prevent the spread of infection and abscess formation. Root canal treatment can save the tooth, because once the pulp is completely destroyed the only solution is to extract the tooth and fill the gap with dental implants, a bridge or a prosthesis. The most common question from patients is ‘do root canals hurt’. Root canal treatments are performed under local anesthesia and are not painful.
The purpose of a root canal treatment is to eliminate any source of infection of the root canal and seal the tooth to prevent new infections. A root canal is a relatively lengthy process and involves several steps. During the first session the infected pulp is removed and the abscess drained. The canal is then cleaned and prepared to be closed temporarily. A rest period of observation follows to ensure that any infection has been eliminated. At this point, the tooth can be sealed permanently. The root canal is completed by the restoration of the crown of the tooth. It is often necessary to use partial or total prosthetic crowns, when a large portion of the original tooth has been lost. Root canal treatment has a very good success rate, above 95%. Nevertheless, it is possible for the infection to resurface. In these cases, the treatment will need to be repeated.
The average price largely depends on the number of canals. Root canal costs start at $600 for anterior teeth with a single canal, and can range up to $1,400 for molars with four canals
After treatment, the devitalized tooth may darken after a while. If the tooth exhibits discoloration problems, the normal appearance can be recreated using one of several teeth whitening treatments. After root canal treatment it is best to restore the tooth with a crown to strengthen it. The root canal can cause sensitivities for a few days when chewing that will disappear spontaneously. The tooth will now be deprived of its sensitivity to cold, but does not lose its perception of chewing as the ligament that attaches the tooth to the bone is still alive. It is important for the patient to understand that devitalized teeth will continue to decay and must be cleaned in the same way as the other teeth, several times a day with fluoride toothpaste.