Arguably, one of the worst things anyone can hear from their dentist is that they need a root canal. And there are several reasons why that is the case, the first of which is costs. According to an article published by Forbes, a leading media and publishing company that provides consumers with up-to-date business news and financial information, without insurance, root canal therapy for the front teeth is between $620 and $1,100.
The cost of this dental procedure can be much higher for other teeth. The same article revealed that root canal therapy for bicuspids, which are the teeth located between the molars and canine teeth, can set patients back $705 to $1,250. For molars, the cost is between $870 and $1,472. In addition to being a bit on the pricy side, recovering from a root canal can is far from pleasant.
How Common Are Root Canals in the U.S.?
If there is a silver lining in discovering you need a root canal, it has to be knowing you are not alone. Root canals are among the most commonly performed dental treatments in the U.S. According to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), an estimated 15 million people in the U.S. undergo root canal therapy each year, the vast majority of which are successful. For those unaware, the success rate of root canal procedures performed in the U.S. is over 97%, according to multiple studies.
What Does Getting a Root Canal Entail?
Having detailed the cost of a root canal and factors that increase an individual’s chances of needing one, let’s switch gears and discuss what these treatments entail. The chief objective of root canal therapy is to save a damaged tooth, say nearly all general dentists and endodontists. While both practitioners are more than capable of performing root canals, endodontists tend to perform the more complicated ones.
After a dentist or endodontist injects a patient with a local anesthetic, the next step in the root canal process involves removing the pulp from the damaged tooth. From there, they will clean and disinfect the inside of the tooth and then fill it with a biocompatible material, typically a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. Since a tooth is considerably weaker following a root canal, most dentists will encourage individuals to get a dental crown, which goes over the tooth and makes it stronger.
How Painful Is a Root Canal Procedure?
As far as pain is concerned, the local anesthetic that dentists inject into a patient’s gums ahead of a root canal does a great job of keeping pain at bay. Most people who have undergone a root canal procedure say they only felt slight “pressure” as their dentist worked on the affected tooth. However, recovering at home was another matter. In a survey published by the American Dental Association, many respondents said the pain associated with undergoing a root canal was severe enough that they had to take prescription or over-the-counter pain relievers. And they had to continue doing so for at least 24 to 48 hours following their procedure.
7 Signs You Might Need Root Canal Therapy
Multiple things could spell the need for a root canal, say nearly all of the top-rated root canal therapy dentists in Phoenix AZ, the most notable of which include the following:
- Tooth trauma – When teeth are cracked or fractured due to tooth trauma, it can expose the pulp inside to bacteria, which can cause pain and discomfort. Generally, dentists will apply a composite dental filling material to these teeth to repair them. However, if the extent of the damage is too severe, root canal therapy is generally recommended as an alternative.
- Developing cavities – While rare, cavities can sometimes warrant a root canal. And this is because bacteria can cause the tooth’s pulp to become infected and inflamed. In some cases, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications can help resolve these problems. Other times, however, root canal therapy is the only option.
- Severe decay – When a tooth is severely decayed, there are only two viable treatment options, an extraction or root canal therapy. Because teeth play a critical role in enabling individuals to speak and digest food, dentists are more likely to recommend a root canal than an extraction.
- Sensitive teeth – When it comes to dental work, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. And signs of too much of a good thing could come in the form of sensitive teeth. Studies show that multiple dental procedures performed on the same tooth or neighboring teeth can increase tooth sensitivity and put individuals at risk of needing to undergo root canal therapy to correct the resulting sensitivity.
- Tooth discoloration – More often than not, tooth discoloration means that the tooth’s pulp has become infected and that an abscess has formed because of the infection. Swollen gums and halitosis will sometimes accompany tooth discoloration caused by an infected pulp.
- Gum discoloration – Much like tooth discoloration, gum discoloration can point to the need for a root canal. Gum discoloration generally means that plaque has invaded the pulp area of one or more teeth. It can also mean that gum tissue is not getting enough blood to stay healthy. In either case, root canal therapy is generally the go-to for remediation.
- Trauma to the jaw – Suffering trauma to the jaw can sometimes increase the risk of needing a root canal, especially if that trauma gives way to an open wound. Studies show that an open wound can open the door to a mixture of open-air and bacteria, both of which can make their way to the teeth, pulp, and gums.
In summary, multiple things can put individuals at risk of needing a root canal. But staying on top of one’s oral health, which means brushing twice each day, flossing regularly, and scheduling regular dental exams with a licensed dentist, can go a long way toward helping to keep those risks as low as possible.