Root Canal in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, & Hampton, VA

What Is A Root Canal?

A root canal (endodontic) treatment is a procedure that deals with the inside of the tooth. A root canal treatment is required when the inside of the tooth (the pulp) becomes infected or is severely inflamed. The condition results in an abscess in a tooth, which should be treated as soon as possible before it becomes complicated and results in additional dental issues.


An abscessed tooth requires treatment through a root canal. During this procedure, the infected or inflamed pulp is removed, and the inside of the abscessed tooth is thoroughly cleaned and made sterile. The endodontist then fills and seals the inside of the abscessed tooth with gutta-percha (a rubber-like gel). After a few months from the tooth cleaning, the endodontist will place a crown or filling for additional protection. Once the root canal is complete, the tooth can function like before.


It is important to get an abscessed tooth treated as soon as possible. Any complications and additional infections can be extremely harmful and can cause significant pain and discomfort for the patient.

Signs and symptoms for possible root canal therapy:

  • An abscess (or pimple) on the gums.
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold.
  • Severe toothache pain.
  • Sometimes no symptoms are present.
  • Swelling and/or tenderness.

Some of the most common reasons for an abscessed tooth include:

  • Severe decaying of the pulp due to lack of good oral hygiene or never seeing a dentist
  • Multiple dental procedures on the tooth can lead to weakening and/or loss of sterility of the pulp which eventually results in infection or inflammation
  • Chip or crack in the tooth which allows bacteria to enter the inside of the tooth and initiate an infection
  • Faulty or damaged crown
  • Trauma to the face may lead to damage to the pulp even in the absence of any visible cracks or chips on the tooth
  • Neglected pulp infection or inflammation which over time leads to a collection of pus (Abscess).

Who Performs Root Canal Treatment?


Root canal treatment is usually done by a dental specialist known as an endodontist. An endodontist has several more years of specialized training beyond dental school. Today endodontic treatment by an endodontist is performed with state of the art equipment such as digital imaging, microscopy, fiber optics and ultrasonic instruments. These advances have helped patients undergo surgery without significant discomfort. Recovery time is also much faster with new and improved treatment.


Is Root Canal Treatment Painful?


Root canal treatment is slightly painful but no more than having a tooth cavity filled. In fact, in most cases, a root canal treatment will ease the pain that you had because of the infection of inflammation. That is why it is important for patients to understand that delaying treatment of an abscessed tooth is never a good idea. The anxiety you feel about the pain during your root canal treatment will multiply if you delay treatment and the abscessed tooth becomes worse. The pain that you will feel if you leave the abscessed tooth untreated will be much worse than the timely pain you will feel during the root canal procedure.


The biggest problem with dental care is the anxiety of pain that prevents people from seeking the treatment they need. Studies have shown that people who are more anxious about pain in the dentist’s office often feel more pain as compared to people who do not have such fears. The important thing to remember is that there are solutions for this pain. Even if there is pain during or after treatment, this pain will be nothing compared to the pain you would feel if the infection and/or inflammation or any other dental problem is not fixed in time. Before you dismiss treatment altogether, it is important to discuss your fears and concerns with an endodontist. They can help you understand that there are solutions to deal with the pain.


Today, an endodontist can offer a variety of pain-free options for people who are afraid of pain or are anxious or apprehensive. In most people, a root canal can be performed under local anesthesia. For patients who are extraordinarily afraid of the pain and refuse treatment even with local anesthesia, an endodontist may recommend doing the procedure using intravenous sedation. Whenever anesthesia is used by the endodontist, a licensed anesthesiologist is always available whose job is to not only administer the anesthetic but also to monitor the patient until discharge. The point is that there are solutions to deal with the pain. But simply refusing treatment or delaying the procedure will not help you in the long-run. It will only make your oral health worse which could lead to more infections and even more pain.


In the majority of cases, a root canal treatment relieves the pain that was caused by the infection or inflammation. The pain after the root canal treatment is mild and short-lived. It can be easily managed with over the counter pain pills. The pain usually subsides in 24-48 hours. If you have an abscessed tooth, don’t delay treatment. Talk to an endodontist and get the treatment that they recommend.


Do I Need X-Rays During My Root Canal Treatment?


While you do need x-rays to assess the structure of your bone and adjacent tissues, today most dentists use digital radiography. This advanced system of obtaining images of the teeth generates significantly less radiation compared to conventional dental x-ray machines. The risk of any harm from the digital x-rays is minimal to none. Dentistry has advanced over the years, and today, many pre-diagnostic procedures can be completed with minimal radiation and pain.


Can A Root Canal Infection Be Treated With Conservative Care Instead Of Surgery?


In most cases, having a root canal infection or inflammation is associated with significant pain. Some people may experience mild relief with pain medications and antibiotics, but the cure is not always possible with antibiotics alone. Even a few bacteria in the pulp can rapidly multiply and cause a serious infection that can result in the production of pus. The standard treatment of discharge in the inside of the tooth is drainage, followed by a clean-up process. With root canal treatment, the entire inside of the tooth is cleaned and made sterile again.


There are some patients who have an infection of the root canal but have no symptoms. In these patients, the infection is often discovered incidentally when obtaining x-rays during the workup of another dental problem. Even in these cases, the treatment is a root canal treatment because if the infection is left alone, it can destroy the entire tooth and lead to poor quality of life.


Dentists are in the best position to determine which treatment would work best. For a root canal infection, the best thing would be a root canal treatment. Any fears or anxiety you might have should be set aside, and treatment should be done. There are solutions for the pain, but there is no other solution for a root canal infection other than a root canal treatment.


Can I Just Undergo Extraction Of My Tooth?


Tooth extraction is always an option, but this means you will be left without a tooth, which can make eating and chewing difficult. In addition, any gap left on the jaw can cause the other teeth to drift out of position and lead to poor facial aesthetics. The reason why a root canal is the preferred option instead of extraction is that the procedure preserves your tooth. After tooth extraction, you can have an artificial tooth placed but this is also more costly, and there are limitations on what you can eat. Nothing is better than having your natural tooth.


A root canal treatment can ensure you retain your original tooth and you treat the infection. With a root canal treatment, you get to save your tooth, and it is also more cost-effective than an extraction in the long run. Plus with today’s techniques, the results of a root canal treatment have very high success rates. If you have a tooth extraction, you may need an implant or a bridge and these devices do not last forever. In addition, you will continue to need more procedures to preserve the adjacent teeth and support tissues. In short, for a root canal infection, root canal treatment is your best option. Extractions may be recommended for other dental issues but not for this particular problem.


How Long Does A Root Canal Treatment Take?


The initial treatment depends on the severity of the condition of your tooth and the type of tooth involved. In most cases, the first part of the treatment can be completed in less than 2 hours. The second session usually takes less time. The second phase of the root canal is usually done 4-6 weeks later.


Do I Need To Follow Up After Completion Of My Root Canal Treatment?


Once you have the root canal treatment done, it is recommended that you see the dentist at least once a year. This allows the dentist to know how the healing is coming along and if there are any problems.


As it is, regular visits to the dentist are generally recommended for adequate management and maintenance of your oral health. Just like you make it a point to visit your family doctor from time to time, make it a habit of visiting the dentist regularly as well. This routine can help identify problems at an early stage and initiate treatment accordingly so as to prevent future problems.


How Should I Look After My Teeth After The Surgery?


After a root canal treatment, you should maintain good oral hygiene. This means you should floss once a day and brush at least twice a day. Avoid hard foods, sugary treats, and acidic juices. Do not smoke as it can stain your teeth. If you have any dental problems, see a dentist right away. This is applicable whether you have a root canal treatment or not. Practicing good oral hygiene should be a way of life and should always be a priority. Oral health is important and regular check-ups, and close monitoring of any dental issues should be part of your normal routine.


What Is The Cost Of A Root Canal Treatment?


The cost of a root canal depends on which tooth needs treatment and the severity of the infection. Most insurers cover the cost of a root canal or about 80% of the cost. On average the cost of a root canal varies from $800-$2500. This depends on the extent of the infection and the recommendation by the endodontist.


Dental Care At The Foleck Center

We understand that the thought of a root canal procedure can cause anxiety in people. However, you need to understand that there are situations which need to be addressed as soon as possible. You don’t want to leave an abscessed tooth untreated. If you have questions or concerns about root canal treatments and want more information about the procedure, please call The Foleck Center today and schedule an appointment with one of our dentists.

We believe that patient fears and anxieties must be addressed because it is this anxiety that prevents many people from getting the treatment they need. Your satisfaction is our top priority. We don’t want to make you feel pain. We don’t want to put you under any stress or perform any procedure on you if you are not comfortable with it. However, we will recommend what you need, and we will discuss with you all elements of the treatment protocol and what it might entail. Don’t put your oral health at risk because you don’t have the necessary information about a certain procedure or because you think any visit to a dentist will result in pain. It won’t. Talk to us. Call and schedule your free consultation today at The Foleck Center and our dental team will be happy to answer any questions you may have.