You Don’t Have To Dread The Words “Root Canal”
When a tooth has been damaged by decay or an accidental trauma, it can sometimes be too far gone to be repaired with a filling. Additionally, if the tooth has become infected, it may also require root canal treatment. If you think you may need a root canal, The Smile Anchorage can be reached at (502)243-9200
Many patients dread hearing the words “root canal”. A root canal procedure should be music to your ears if you are in pain from a dental infection or trauma. The root canal procedure will remove the nerve from the tooth, and you can get back to your normal life right away. A root canal ends pain, it doesn’t cause pain.
What Exactly Is A Root Canal?
If you think of the root of your tooth as a pencil, a root canal procedure is the removing of the lead from the pencil and replacing it with something other than lead.
The inside of your tooth has living tissue. This includes a blood supply, lymphatics and nerves. When your tooth becomes infected from any number of causes (a big cavity, fractured tooth, large fillings that are too close to the pulp) it will require that the living portion of the inside of the tooth (the pulp) be removed and filled in with a special filling material called gutta percha. Gutta Percha is basically a rubber like filling material that seals off the inside of the tooth and helps to prevent further infection. After the tooth has been filled with gutta percha, it is usually (but not always) restored with a crown. Occasionally the tooth can be restored with just a filling.
Root canal treatment allows you to keep your own tooth, so you don’t have a missing tooth in your smile.
The Steps To Root Canal Treatment
The root canal procedure consists of a few steps:
- Once it is determined that you need a root canal, the first step is anesthesia. While your tooth is getting numb, we will place a rubber dam over the tooth to keep it clean during the procedure. A rubber dam is a small sheet of thin rubber that is very flexible, and allows us to separate the rest of the mouth from the tooth where we are performing the root canal.
- Once isolated, we make a small opening in the tooth, as well as removing any and all decay that was present in the tooth. This small hole gives us access to the inside of the tooth, where the nerve resides.
- A series of small instruments are used to clean the inside of the tooth, removing all of the living tissue. While the instruments are being used, the inside will also be rinsed often with solutions for cleaning the living tissue from inside of the tooth.
- After the canal is cleaned and dried, a sealer is applied and the canal (or canals) will be filled with gutta percha, the rubber like filling material.
- The small opening made in the tooth will be filled, either with a temporary filling or with a final filling material. If the tooth will require a crown, we will prepare the tooth for the crown at this time.
The Alternatives To Root Canal Treatment
There are alternatives to having a root canal. The first of those is to have the tooth removed, and leave an empty space where the tooth once was located. We do not recommend leaving open spaces in your smile, as problems will surely arise from dooing so. The teeth left on either side of the empty space can begin to shift and move, creating malocclusion (bad bite), periodontal problems (bone loss, gum disease) and other problems.
The other alternatives are to have the tooth removed, and replace the missing tooth. There are a few ways to replace missing teeth and they include partials or dentures, bridges or implants.
If you are a good candidate for dental implants, then this is generally the best option for replacing a missing tooth. Unlike partials or dentures, implants are not removable and act like your natural teeth. Bridges are a good second option, but have some drawbacks compared to dental implants.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Smile Anchorage gets a lot of questions about root canal treatment. Here are some of the most common questions we receive.
How much will it cost? email@example.com
The cost of any particular procedure is going to vary depending on a number of factors. For example, you may have an insurance plan that has a specific contracted payment amount, or you may have an insurance co-pay or deductible. For an accurate cost on any particular treatment, please contact our front office staff and we will gladly help you determine your out-of-pocket costs.
How much does a root canal cost? firstname.lastname@example.org
The cost of a root canal will depend on a number of factors. Root canals for teeth in the front of the mouth cost less that root canals on back teeth. this is due to the number of canals present in each type of tooth. Also, there are other factors to consider, such as if your tooth will need a crown after root canal treatment, or if it can be restored with only a filling. Call The Smile Anchorage to schedule an appointment and we can develop a treatment plan specifically for you.
What will happen if I don’t get a root canal? email@example.com
If you have been in our office and we recommended a root canal, we have probably also given you an antibiotic. This antibiotic will usually relieve the pain symptoms you were experiencing. The pain will disappear, but the infection will not. It will return and the pain will return with it. If it isn’t treated, long term chronic pain is likely until it is fixed. The infection could cause an abscess to form, or it could spread to the entire body (systemic infection).
What will my tooth feel like after the root canal? firstname.lastname@example.org
In the immediate days following a root canal, your tooth may be a little sensitive, but it should feel much better than when you came in initially. Over-the-counter pain medications like Tylenol or Motrin are usually sufficient to relieve any soreness.
Some patient report that their tooth feels “different” after having a root canal. This is likely due to the fact that the tooth remains, but the nerve is missing. However, there are tiny fibers that surround the tooth, called periodontal ligaments, that can still give some feedback to your brain about the tooth. So you may still be able to tell the tooth is there, but in a different way than the original feeling.
How do I care for a tooth with a root canal? email@example.com
Immediately following a root canal you will want to avoid chewing or biting on the tooth until it is completely restored. On occasion, a temporary filling is placed. When a root canal is done in our office, in most cases, we restore the tooth the same day. If you have a root canal performed at another office and have a temporary filling in place, you will want to be careful not to damage the tooth.
Once the tooth has it’s final filling or crown, you care for it the same way you would any other tooth. Twice per day brushings, regular daily flossing and don’t forget those 6 month check-ups in our Louisville dental office.
After a root canal, there are times when the treatment isn’t enough to bring the tooth back to being healed. When this happens the tooth may need to be re-treated or have an apicoectomy performed.
Do you take my insurance? firstname.lastname@example.org
Dental Insurance Plans
Our dental office is a participating provider for a number of dental insurance plans. The Smile Anchorage accepts the insurance plans of most of the major employers in the area. Notably this includes United Parcel Service UPS, Humana, Ford Motor Company, Yum! Brands, Papa John’s and many others.
Please keep in mind that your insurance coverage may be different that that of your co-workers. Even though you have the same provider, you may be enrolled in a different plan. Hence, plans can vary greatly. For example, your co-worker might have coverage for braces. In contrast, you may have no coverage for those procedures. By the same token your co-worker may pay $25 for a filling. Instead, you might pay nothing for a similar filling. The Smile Anchorage does not have any say in what your plan covers. Call or come by our office. Speak to one of our insurance specialists. They can tell you about your exact coverages.
You Have No Insurance
We know that many of our patients have no insurance. So, The Smile Anchorage has an in-house dental plan for those without insurance called The Smile Program. Firstly, The Smile Program covers twice per year cleanings. Secondly, exams are included two times per year. Likewise, all necessary x-rays are included. Thirdly, there are discounts on certain treatments. Additionally there are no claim forms. Equally important other benefits are explained on our New Patients page. Click here to learn more about The Smile Program.
The list of dental insurance plans that are accepted at The Smile Anchorage is not a static list. Correspondingly, changes sometimes occur. With this in mind, we advise that you call to confirm that your insurance is accepted in our office before you make an appointment.
A current list of insurance providers that are accepted in our office is shown below. Providers change. The list is updated as of July 2017.
LHI Logistics Health Incorporated
Lincoln Financial Group
United Concordia & ADDP United Concordia