Frequently Asked Questions
Why would I need root canal therapy?
Root canal therapy is required if your tooth becomes infected, which most often happens one of several ways:
- A serious cavity can eat away at the outer layers of your enamel and dentin until it reaches the pulp. Once the pulp, which is responsible for keeping your tooth alive, is exposed, it becomes vulnerable to bacteria and becomes infected.
- Dental trauma that cracks or chips a tooth can expose the nerve and blood vessel-filled pulp to oral bacteria.
- A crack or chip in a tooth caused by an old filling can expose the pulp to bacteria.
- Severe grinding or bruxism that causes damage to the tooth, leaving the pulp vulnerable to bacteria.
If left untreated, either situation will lead to the infection, decay, and eventual death of your tooth’s pulp. When the infection starts to take hold, you’ll likely begin experiencing an array of symptoms like a toothache, inflamed gums near the tooth, and tooth sensitivity.
Does root canal treatment hurt?
No! Although it’s a common myth that root canal therapy hurts, it’s actually the toothache caused by infection that is painful. With modern dental techniques and technology, a root canal is no more uncomfortable than getting a dental filling.
Not only will your mouth be numbed completely, but you can also opt to be sedated during the procedure. Overall, root canal therapy is the best way to alleviate the pain and discomfort of an infected tooth.
Can root canal treatment fail? What happens if it does?
Though most root canals can be successful, it is not uncommon for root canal treatment to fail. While your dentist will do their best to remove all of the bacteria that cause the infection, these microscopic agents are resilient. If there is any remaining bacteria or decay left behind that wasn’t removed during the initial root canal, the tooth infection is likely to return. If this happens to you, there are a variety of treatments that can be used to restore your oral health, depending on your unique needs and physiology. Non-surgical root canal therapy, extraction, or even bone grafting may be needed to remove the infection for good. Like most dental treatments, the body's response to root canal therapy is dependent on the individual's healing ability.
Do I always need a dental crown after a root canal?
In most cases, a dental crown is necessary to restore a tooth after root canal therapy. However, in certain situations your doctor may advise otherwise.
Is root canal therapy covered by insurance?
Root canal therapy is usually covered, at least in part, by most dental insurance plans. However, it’s always a good idea to get in touch with your insurance provider to gain a thorough understanding of your benefits, and to find out what type of treatments are covered.