Root Canals – San Antonio, TX
Sometimes a tooth is too decayed or damaged to be fixed with a simple filling -- but it may not be so far gone that it needs to be removed completely. The goal of conservative dentistry is to help you keep all of your teeth for as long as possible, and root canal therapy is part of that. This is a common restorative procedure that can keep an infected tooth functioning properly for decades afterwards. Keep reading to learn much more about root canals -- and what you can expect if you need one yourself.
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What Is a Root Canal? Does It Hurt?
A root canal is a treatment that allows your dentist to bring back the form and function of a tooth by cleaning out all of the infected tissue and placing a sturdy restoration back on top. This procedure is completed under local anesthesia and possibly sedation for additional relaxation. Today, root canals have a high success rate and can keep a tooth stable and functioning properly for a long time to come.
Root canal procedures have developed a reputation of being painful or something to dread, but thanks to modern methods and materials, most patients do not feel anything during the treatment. The pain of the toothache leading up to the procedure is far worse than anything you experience at the dentist. Rather, the root canal is the way to help you get out of pain and on with your life.
When Is a Root Canal Necessary?
Your dentist will recommend a root canal when the interior of the tooth, or the part known as the pulp, becomes damaged. This is the soft inner tissue that lies beneath the enamel and dentin. When ignored for long enough, a cavity will eventually reach the pulp — and, because this is where all the sensitive nerve endings live, you are likely to experience some real pain as a result. The pulp may also become damaged due to an injury or facial trauma.
What Are the Warning Signs I Need a Root Canal?
If you have a severely infected or damaged tooth, getting the appropriate treatment right away is very important. If allowed to worsen, the tooth is at a high risk of abscessing and placing your overall health at risk. Some of the warning signs that can help you identify a problem tooth in need of a root canal include:
- A dull, persistent toothache
- Lingering sensitivity to heat, cold, air, and pressure
- Jaw pain
- Noticeable darkening or graying of the tooth
- Foul odor erupting from the tooth
- A red, irritated bump on the gums below the tooth
- Gum recession, where you can see the gum tissue pulling away
What Is the Process for a Root Canal?
Most root canal procedures take place over the course of at least two visits to our dental office. Sometimes, for less severe infections, the treatment can be completed in a single appointment. After we are sure you are completely comfortable, your dentist will remove all of the tissue from the interior of the tooth using special tools. Then, the root canals are measured, smoothed, and sanitized. A biocompatible material known as gutta percha fills them back up. Sometimes, a local antibiotic is applied directly to the infection to speed healing. A temporary or permanent filling is then placed. If two appointments are required, you will return one to two weeks later for the completion of the procedure.
What Is the Recovery Like after a Root Canal?
Minor bleeding, swelling, and discomfort are to be expected after your root canal procedure. Use gauze to stop the blood and an ice pack in the first 36 hours to reduce swelling. Rest with your head elevated and manage discomfort either with medication you have been prescribed or an over-the-counter pain reliever.
Root canal therapy is a common procedure these days, but it is still oral surgery — and that means you will need to pencil in enough time to rest and relax after the treatment is completed. Take it easy for a day or two to allow your body to recover. Sticking to soft foods will be easier on your jaw and also protect the treatment site — scrambled eggs, fruit purees, and soup are all excellent and nutritious options.
Following our directions can help you enjoy an easy and speedy recovery. If your symptoms worsen or do not improve after several days, however, you should get in touch with us right away.
How Can I Avoid Needing a Root Canal?
Root canal procedures are highly preventable. The best way to ensure that one will not happen to you is to visit our dental office regularly for checkups and cleanings. This is the time when we examine all the teeth for weak spots and decay that could indicate future cavities — and, if they are caught early, these areas can be strengthened with a fluoride treatment to prevent decay from occurring at all. Small cavities that are treated early never penetrate beyond the outer layer of enamel, keeping your smile safe.
Another important factor for preventing the need for this procedure is maintaining excellent oral hygiene at home. Good tips include:
- Brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day
- Brushing with fluoride toothpaste to strengthen tooth enamel
- Flossing between teeth daily
- Using an alcohol-free mouthwash to kill germs and freshen breath
- Eating a nutritious, low-sugar diet
- Avoiding cigarettes and tobacco
Understanding the Cost of Root Canal Therapy
Hearing that you need a root canal can stir up a lot of anxiety, especially if you’re concerned about the cost of the treatment. Our team at New Image Dentistry is here to make the process as stress-free, pain-less, and simple as possible by filing insurance claims on your behalf and offering additional financing for those who are uninsured or underinsured. The price associated with your procedure will depend on a variety of factors, but our team will outline a detailed estimate with you beforehand so you know what to expect and to help minimize any concerns or worry you may be experiencing about the process.
Factors That Can Affect Root Canal Cost
Once we’ve had a chance to collect X-rays and conduct a thorough evaluation of your mouth, we will be able to determine the cost of root canal therapy in San Antonio for you. The estimate we’ll provide you with will be based on several factors, including:
- The type of tooth that will need to be treated can impact the cost. For example, if the tooth that needs to be treated is a molar, these typically incur higher fees as they’re more complicated to treat.
- The severity of the infection and how far it has spread can determine whether you need to be referred to an outside specialist, who can typically have higher fees than a general dentist.
- Additional services that are required after treatment, like the need for a dental crown, can incur separate fees apart from the root canal treatment itself.
Is it Cheaper to Have a Tooth Removed?
While it may seem like the more cost-effective option to extract a tooth instead of having it treated, it’s important to keep in mind that upon removal, you’ll need to have your tooth replaced. This can incur an entirely separate set of costs or have long-term impacts on your oral health if you choose not to have it replaced. While root canal therapy may seem like the more costly option, preserving your natural dental structure is usually the most cost-effective route to take in the long run.
Does Dental Insurance Cover Root Canal Therapy?
Most dental insurance plans consider root canal therapy a more extensive procedure, typically covering anywhere from 40% to 80% of the cost depending on your specific benefits. If you have not met your deductible yet, you can expect to pay that amount out-of-pocket during your visit. Our team has extensive experience filing insurance claims for all types of companies, so we’ll do our best to help you receive maximum coverage and reimbursement.
Making Root Canal Therapy Affordable
To ensure that you receive the care you need, our team does everything we can to make it affordable. We’re proud to be an in-network provider with several major dental insurance plans, including Aetna, Cigna, Humana, Guardian, Delta Dental, and many more. We also file claims for patients with plans that are out-of-network. In addition, we work with third-party financer, CareCredit, to offer low monthly payment plans for those who are underinsured or uninsured.
If you’re experiencing signs of tooth infections, like a severe toothache, we also offer a $49 new patient exam and X-ray special!
More Frequently Asked Questions About Root Canals
Still curious about root canals? At New Image Dentistry, we want you to be as well-informed as possible before you proceed with this treatment. To help you out, we’ve compiled answers to some commonly asked questions below! Should you have any specific concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out for personal assistance. We’re prepared to help in any way that we can.
Can I Eat Before a Root Canal?
If you’re receiving dental sedation for your root canal, you may be advised to fast for a few hours prior to lower the chances of nausea caused by the sedative. However, if you won't be sedated, it’s recommended that you eat a nutritious meal at least a couple of hours before the treatment. Just be sure to brush your teeth ahead of your appointment! Following the procedure, your mouth will be numb, making it difficult to eat.
Keep in mind that alcohol can have negative interactions with the local anesthetic used to numb your mouth. To ensure optimal safety and effectiveness, you should avoid consuming alcohol for at least 24 hours before your root canal.
Do I Need Antibiotics Before or After My Root Canal?
Most patients do not! You will only be prescribed antibiotics before a root canal if you have a health condition that increases your risk of developing an infection after a major dental procedure. Rest assured – our team will go over your medical history with you beforehand to determine whether or not prescribing antibiotics is a good idea for you.
What Happens If You Wait Too Long for a Root Canal?
Teeth cannot heal themselves, which means an infection will only get worse if you delay treatment. If you’ve been told that you need a root canal, you should schedule it as soon as possible to prevent serious complications.
Failing to address the issue can cause the problem to worsen, and the pain may eventually go away. Some people may take that as a sign that a root canal is no longer necessary, when it actually means the infection has destroyed the tooth’s nerves, rendering them unable to register pain. The infection could spread to your jaw, gums, other teeth, or even the rest of your body, where it could cause systemic illness.
Can Root Canals Be Prevented?
Taking proper care of your teeth and gums is the best way to prevent root canals. Brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and rinsing every day with an ADA-approved mouthwash will help minimize the risk of bacteria reaching a tooth’s pulp. Maintaining a healthy diet is also incredibly important! You can do that by limiting sugar, eating lots of nutritious foods, and drinking plenty of water. If you regularly play sports or suffer from chronic bruxism, you should wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth from damage.