Root canal therapy is required when the nerve of the tooth becomes irreversibly damaged. This damage can occur from decay, trauma, or a crack in the tooth.
Pain, swelling, and sensitivity to hot or cold. Another indication of nerve damage is the tooth becoming darker in color. Sometimes, it can only be diagnosed with an x-ray or other tests by an endodontist.
The purpose of root canal therapy is to clean out the infected tooth pulp tissue within the roots. After all the nerve has been removed, the canals are filled with a sealer.
Generally, root canals take one or two appointments for a front tooth (anterior), and two or three appointments for a back tooth (posterior). A tooth can have from one to four roots; all of the roots must be treated. Difficult cases may require even more visits.
Yes, the tooth will require a permanent restoration. This could range from a simple filling to a large build-up with posts and pins. The tooth is more brittle after a root canal treatment and therefore is more susceptible to fracture. If the filling is large, the tooth may need a crown as well. A crown protects the tooth from breaking.
It may seem simpler to have the damaged tooth removed; however, it is really much healthier and more economical to save it. If the extracted tooth is not replaced, the teeth next to it can drift into the empty space. Replacing an extracted tooth involves either expensive bridgework or a partial denture.
During the actual treatment, your tooth will be numb as it would be for simply filling a cavity. The treatment is usually started because the tooth is sensitive; it may take a day or two for the tooth to get back to normal. Generally a mild painkiller is enough to keep you comfortable during this time. If something stronger is needed, your endodontist will prescribe it. If the tooth is badly infected, an antibiotic may be needed as well.
The cost of root canal treatment and therapy varies with the number of canals which need to be treated. There will be a separate charge for the restoration, depending on the extent of the procedure. Your dentist will be glad to discuss the charges with you for all the expected treatment.