What Does a Root Canal Dentist Do?
When people type “root canal dentist near me” into their favorite search engine they will more than likely expect to see some results that offer services from a qualified dentist nearby that is capable of performing root canals. Even if the dentist they are working with tells them that they need a root canal, it is always wise to get a second opinion. Finding the right dentist can be difficult at times, especially when you don’t know who is good and who is not.
When it comes to your teeth and the health of your mouth you might not want to trust just “anybody” to work on you. Understanding what a root canal dentist is and what their role is is a great way to help you decide which direction to turn when you need help.
What is a Root Canal?
Before we go too far into this topic, it may be a good idea to know and understand what a root canal is. Root canal dentists are also known as endodontists because they specialize in the treatment of dental pulp. A root canal involves the removal and repair of dental pulp within the tooth and gum.
A dentist will recommend a root canal when:
- The tooth is still alive and saveable
- There is excessive decay or cracking
- The only other option is to remove the tooth
When a specialist performs a root canal they will drill down into the tooth from the top and carefully remove the pulp and the nerve from the tooth all the way from the top of the tooth to the bottom of the root.
Obviously, in most cases, the dentist will use a local anesthetic to numb the tooth and jaw so that the patient does not feel any pain.
The objective of a root canal is to clear away any infection and remove the nerves in the tooth so that there is no pain but the remaining part of the tooth is still alive and well. When it comes time to cover the tooth with a crown the remaining substance of the tooth will be protected by an upper covering that is shaped exactly like a tooth.
In any event, there are a lot of horror stories out there about how painful and awful root canals are. Don’t listen to them. A root canal is just one of the many daily procedures that a qualified dentist will do and there isn’t much to them. You just sit back in the dentist’s chair and let the doctor do the job. Before you know it, you are done and ready to go home.
Examine and Evaluate
The very first thing a dentist will do before they perform a root canal is to do a thorough examination of the entire mouth, gums, and teeth. This is a standard procedure for most dentists.
An oral exam with mirrors and dental tools will give the dentist an idea of where to begin and what damage is present.
In addition to the visual exam, the dentist will most likely order some x-rays of the teeth. A series of x-ray photos will be of huge benefit to the dentist so that they can see what’s going on with the teeth through the inside as well as the outside.
In many cases, the tooth that the dentist examines is beyond repair and must be extracted. However, if the dentist catches the damage before it becomes irreparable, they can fill the tooth and keep an eye on it.
When a dentist examines the mouth they will look at the entire structure of the teeth, gums, and mouth. Millions of people suffer from gum disease and don’t even know it. Sometimes people will come in with tooth pain only to learn that they are suffering from severe gingivitis.
What a dentist looks for in an examination is:
- Inflamed gums
- Visible tooth decay
- Discoloration of teeth
- Bleeding gums
- Tartar buildup on teeth
What many people fail to realize is that dental hygiene plays a huge role in the health of the body. Problems that start in the teeth can lead to life-threatening issues such as heart disease, stroke, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Once the dentist is done with the examination they will determine the treatment that is most appropriate for the issues that are going on.
In many cases, a root canal is an ideal solution because it gets rid of any infected pulp, rotting decay, and pain, but allows the tooth to remain useable. Dentists know all too well that people only have so many teeth and that every one of them is worth saving. Once they are gone, they don’t grow back.
What to Expect at a Root Canal Appointment
If you have never had a root canal before the experience can be pretty scary. However, it is more than likely that your dentist is a professional and knows exactly how to do this type of procedure.
During your procedure you will:
- Be suited with a dental bib
- Be seated in the dentist’s chair
- Reclined back so you are flat
- Given another oral exam
- Recieve some local anesthetics, usually a shot in the gums near the tooth
- Keep your mouth open wide as the dentist and the assistant work
- Feel a little pressure but no pain
- Be done and ready to go in less than an hour in the seat
At first, it may seem a bit uncomfortable because you will have to lay back with your mouth wide open while two people stick their hands in there like they would if they were giving a car a tune-up.
There will be a suction device in your mouth at the back of the throat to prevent any water or liquid from filling up in your mouth. You will be discouraged from swallowing.
As the dentist drills through your tooth, you will hear a high-pitched grinding noise from the drill. Do not worry, it does not take too long.
Once initial drilling is over, the dentist will place different instruments and tools into the mouth and proceed to clean out the area where the root canal will take place.
Depending on the plan that the doctor has for your tooth, there could be a few varying factors for your visit. The doctor may place a metal band around your tooth until the crown is ready to be placed on top of it, the dentist may not.
Some people get a root canal and a crown in the same sitting, some do not.
Recovery from a Root Canal
Most of the time when the anesthesia wears off there will be some lingering pain for a day or two, but other than that the root canal is not so terrible. When the root canal is done on a molar that a person uses for chewing it is different than a tooth in front that does not see much action.
It may be a day or two before it is safe to chew on the molar, and the dentist will recommend getting a crown on it as soon as possible. Chewing on an open hole in the tooth can cause problems, and a temporary filling may pop right back out while the person is eating.
It is best to take caution after a root canal and make sure that the tooth is ready for chewing.
The Cost of a Root Canal
The price of a root canal procedure will vary from dentist to dentist and on the amount of coverage the person has for insurance. A fair estimate would be to assume it will cost anywhere between $500 and $1,000.
Different dental practices will have different prices and specials for various seasons. Sometimes a good dental coverage provider will cover the entire procedure and you won’t have to pay a dime out of pocket.
At the end of the day, a root canal dentist is your friend. The procedure is in place to both save the tooth and alleviate any pain that might be going on as a result of the issue. It is much better to go through the root canal procedure and save the tooth than to have the tooth pulled and leave a gaping hole in your mouth.