Project Description

Root Canals

“A smile is a facelift that’s in everyone’s price range.” ~ Tom Wilson.

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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.

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.

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.
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).
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.
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.

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.

The List

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.

  • Aetna

  • Anthem

  • Assurant

  • Central States

  • Cigna

  • Delta Dental

  • DentaSelect

  • Dentemax

  • Guardian

  • Humana

  • LHI Logistics Health Incorporated

  • Liberty Dental

  • Lincoln Financial Group

  • Metlife

  • Principal

  • Superior Dental

  • United Concordia & ADDP United Concordia

  • United Healthcare

Dental Insurance Coverage

People often ask us if their dental insurance coverage will take care of the costs associated with any given procedure. This is a question that is difficult to answer through our website.

There are a tremendous number of insurance companies. Each of those companies may have several different policy options. There are also other considerations, such as co-pays and deductibles. Those can vary from person to person depending on their insurance policy.

Sometimes it occurs that you have dental insurance coverage, but there are time-frame restrictions to consider. For example, you may have insurance that pays for a dental cleaning every six months. That would mean your insurance would not cover your cleaning if you visited the office five and a half months after your last dental cleaning. You would have to wait two weeks before your benefits would be active.

Another situation that could occur would be exceeding a yearly maximum. For example, if you had coverage that pays for a crown, but you had a $1500 yearly insurance maximum. If you had already had some treatment that the insurance paid for in the amount of $1400 your remaining insurance is just $100. You would have just that $100 remaining that the insurance would pay, unless you wait until your insurance reset for a new year. That time reset could be on a calendar basis, or a policy basis.

Another factor that could weigh on payments made by insurance is that of pre-determination. For example, let’s assume you have coverage for a crown. You have a tooth where you dislike the appearance. We determine that a crown is the best way to solve the problem. Your insurance may consider the procedure to be cosmetic in nature, and your policy may have an exclusion for cosmetic work done to your teeth. In these situations, we can submit your claim to your insurance provider before the work is done in order to determine if the proposed work would be covered bu your policy.

All of these factors are person specific.

In conclusion, the answer to the question of whether or not your insurance covers a specific treatment is “maybe”. So , if you would like to know if your insurance covers a specific treatment, call our office at (502)243-9200. Or, take a short drive to our office in East Louisville and one of our insurance specialists will help you understand your policy coverage.

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Compassionate care is just a click or call away. Let The Smile Anchorage help you with your dental emergency.


(502) 243-9200