After experiencing severe pain from an affected tooth, you may require to undergo a root canal procedure. Your dentist should examine the tooth or teeth to determine whether a root canal is the best solution. Usually, patients fear undergoing root canals because of pain and a lot of discomforts. 

However, it is important to note that you may experience worse complications from failing to take the necessary tooth restoration steps. Since root canals involve accessing some sensitive parts of the tooth, you want to work with a professional dentist with many years of experience. Doing so will give you the confidence and reassurance you need while undergoing the procedure. 

At Washington Dental, we provide a range of dental services, including performing root canals. With our help, you can fight dental problems and perform root canals. Since you will be in the hands of our competent dentists, you can look forward to a professional treatment procedure that will drastically improve your oral health. Visit any of our branches today if you need a root canal procedure in Los Angeles, Carson, Torrance, and Lomita, CA.

Understanding What a Root Canal Procedure Is

Your dental structure involves two main sections; the external and internal parts of the teeth. For each section, your dentist undertakes different procedures when problems or complications arise. Therefore, a root canal procedure is a form of treatment that aims to remedy complications in the internal part of your tooth.

Any type of treatment involving the internal part of your teeth falls within the endodontic division. The name endodontic refers to the internal sections of your dental structure, so this form of treatment is exclusive to parts like your gums, bone tissue, and nerves.

A root canal procedure remedies infections that form on your pulp. Usually, your dental pulp is a necessary component that nourishes the surrounding part of the teeth during their development stages. This is because the pulp generates the hard tissues around your teeth and harbors your nerves, blood vessels, and other connecting tissues. 

However, your dental structure can continue holding up well without the pulp when your teeth develop. Thus, if you suffer from a serious pulp infection, a root canal may save you from the pain and risk of suffering from complications. Your dentist will remove the affected pulp areas and seal the root canal to stop the bacterial infection.

What Causes a Damaged Tooth Pulp

You may have concerns about a damaged pulp’s possible causes if you are worried about dealing with the condition. Subsequently, understanding the common causes of damage or infections to your tooth pulp is necessary. Using the details, you can make a more informed decision on whether to consult a dentist about a root canal procedure. 

Additionally, learning about various causes of pulp damage can help protect you from future dental infections. Due to this, you want to ensure that visiting the dentist is a top priority after facing any possible causes. They include:

Tooth Decay

The leading cause of pulp damage requiring a  root canal procedure is tooth decay. The condition is often a complication caused by untreated cavities. When you cannot prevent bacteria from spreading around your tooth, the microbes will erode most of it and make their way into the pulp. 

This bacteria also causes multiple risks of infections, as they expose the tooth pulp to harmful conditions. Consequently, untreated tooth decay for long periods will harbor bacteria that must be eradicated through the root canal procedure. 

Sustaining Severe Face Injuries

You may also damage your pulp after exposure to intense face injuries that cause trauma. For example, boxers may have to deal with constant face trauma, especially if they do not wear protective mouth guards during matches.

In return, your teeth may crack or move slightly out of place, exposing your internal tissues to bacteria. Sometimes, you may not realize the exposure caused by the trauma until you experience serious symptoms of pulp damage. Therefore, wearing mouthguards or any other protective equipment to prevent face and tooth trauma is a good preventive measure. 

Undergoing Multiple Invasive Dental Procedures

Further, pulp damage may also occur because of recurrent exposure to bacteria from multiple procedures. For example, if you require a tooth filling procedure and dental abscess removal, the dentist working on the tooth may have overlooked several safety precautions. The result is that you are exposed to harmful disease-causing microbes that damage your pulp.

Since you are exposed to multiple procedures in this case, the risk of re-infection is also high. Ultimately, the pulp damage may be too severe to salvage, prompting the need for a root canal as soon as possible. 

Tooth Fillings

You should also note that having tooth fillings covering a wide surface area may expose you to pulp damage. The problem tooth’s internal parts may arise if the filling was not well fitted, meaning that bacteria have a pathway into the tooth’s internal parts. Eventually, the microorganisms will cause extreme damage that can only be remedied by undergoing a root canal procedure. 

Signs that Your Dentist Looks Out For Before Recommending a Root Canal

When you visit your dentist for a consultation, he/she will ask about the various symptoms you have experienced. The information you provide will be vital in guiding him/her on whether the root canal process is the best option for your case. Common signs of a patient in need of a root canal include:

Change of Colour on the Tooth Crown

A common indicator of pulp damage is crown discoloration. The phenomenon arises after you face extreme tooth decay cases, primarily because the active bacteria will corrode and cause infections on the tooth. Common causes of the condition include excessive consumption of sugary foods without cleaning your teeth properly. 

Over time, the color changes from milky white to a dark brown or even black color. At this stage, the infection causing tooth decay will be serious, meaning that you will need immediate cleaning and removal of the pulp to prevent additional complications. 

Sharp Toothaches After Applying Pressure to an Affected Tooth

Apart from tooth discoloration, your dentist can recommend a root canal if you experience excruciating pain after applying pressure to a tooth. The most common way of applying pressure is by chewing or biting into something, regardless of how soft it may be.

Normally, the pain comes from the extreme sensitivity in the damaged pulp area because your nerves are exposed. Some patients will only experience the toothaches when chewing or biting, while for others, the pain is continuous. Thus, the dentist will ask several follow-up questions to determine your symptoms’ exact cause and nature.

Small Swellings Around your Gums

Moreover, patients in need of root canal procedures often have small swellings around their gums that often look like pimples. While the cause of these swellings may vary, the most common reason for their persistence is inflammation from the pulp infections. 

In some cases, the small pimples may occur because of excess pus collected at the damaged pulp area. Therefore, they could also indicate a severe condition called a dental abscess, where the pus accumulates in small pockets around the affected tooth. If you identify these small persistent swellings, we advise you to schedule a consultation with us as soon as possible.

Tooth Sensitivity

Other patients may also report severe tooth sensitivity that becomes persistent after taking hot or cold drinks and food. The sensitivity comes from all the exposed nerves after bacteria damage your pulp, leading to increased sharp pains.

You may also notice that the sensitivity does not recede despite using medication and toothpaste that remedies the condition. Failure to see results is because the root canal and pulp area are severely damaged. The extreme damage means that masking the sensitivity is difficult, even when relying on appropriate remedies. Therefore, your dentist will suggest the procedure to provide a more permanent and reliable solution.

Upon confirming your need to receive root canal treatment, your dentist will advise you to make follow-up appointments that take you closer to the actual procedure date.

The Root Canal Dental Procedure

Learning about the root canal procedure is also necessary, as you will understand why you have to face different processes and their importance. We also understand the anxiety and fear that may engulf you after determining that you must receive root canal treatment. 

As a result, knowing what to expect in the dental surgical room can help you relieve stress and unnecessary worrying. We believe in providing transparency in our services to earn your trust, so we are happy to explain the root canal process step by step. The main steps to remember are:

Pre-Surgery Consultation

One of the most important steps before coming in for a root canal is scheduling a consultation. During the meeting with your dentist, he/she will conduct a dental examination that helps reveal the extent of your infection and the affected tooth’s position.

To do this, you will need to have X-ray imaging done, as it provides reliable internal images of your entire oral structure. The dentist will then use these images to identify the problem area. 

Apart from the X-ray, the dentist also conducts a physical examination on the affected area to check for the common symptoms of pulp damage discussed above. You can expect the examination to last for only a few minutes, especially if the dentist can identify the problematic condition and is ready to proceed. 

During the initial consultation, we also advise you to disclose any necessary details regarding your medical history. These include details about allergic reactions to medication and local anesthesia. Giving the information is beneficial, as it will help determine the drugs for use during the root canal. 

You should also disclose information concerning any current prescriptions you are taking. Thanks to these details, your dentist will identify the possible medication to avoid administering and prevent complications that arise from combining drugs. 

Beginning Treatment by Administering Anesthesia 

When you are ready for the procedure, the first step after settling in will numb the affected area. We use local anesthesia for the procedure because you often need to remain awake throughout the root canal process. 

Staying conscious can be crucial for your dental procedure’s success, as your dentist may require your involvement. For example, you should be conscious of changing tongue positions for easy access to the affected tooth. 

After the dentist administers the local anesthesia, he/she also protects the tooth to be operated on by placing a dental dam around it. Essentially, the dental dam will block any saliva or other debris from the affected tooth. In return, the root canal procedure is easier to conduct, with fewer distractions that could reduce the quality of your dentist's work.

Opening and Cleaning the Affected Root Canal Area 

When the dental dam is in a secure position, the dentist then opens up the tooth crown by creating a small incision that gives way to the internal dental components. 

Maintaining your crown’s quality is necessary, primarily if the pulp damage did not affect its color or durability. This is because the dentist will use it at later stages of the procedure to restore your tooth to its original state. As a result, accessing the tooth’s internal parts through the crown should be meticulously to prevent damage.

Once inside the affected pulp area, the dentist will use root canal files to clean out the damaged pulp. Typically, most of the damaged tissue lies around the root canal and inside the pulp chambers. The dentist may repeat the cleaning steps to clear out all the pulp until the damaged tissue is not visible. 

Afterward, your dentist cleans the root canal by spraying water or a sodium solution. This step is important as it reinforces the clean-up by flushing any remnants of the tooth’s damaged pulp. Similarly, the dentist may repeat this step until the tooth is thoroughly cleaned. 

Shaping the  Cleaned Space to Accommodate a New Filing

As mentioned, your oral health will continue even without the pulp, especially if your teeth were already well developed before undergoing the root canal. However, removing the damaged pulp will leave a space in your internal dental structure that should be covered using filings. 

Hence, your dentist will shape the new space left after cleaning the pulp out. The dentist may have to carve out additional tissue or parts of the enamel, depending on the filing size. He/she does this to accommodate the filing and reduce chances of discomfort and non-integration with the other tissues. 

Sealing the Root Canal 

Upon completing the cleaning and tooth shaping process, the dentist will use a rubber-like material to seal the root canal. The process may be necessary for patients who cannot have their filings fitted on the same day as the root canal. 

Several reasons may influence the decision to have you wait for a few days or weeks until your root canal filling is installed. For example, you may have undergone an extended invasive process that requires the surrounding flesh to heal before any external components are added.

Thus, sealing the tooth is vital because your internal sensitive dental parts will be protected from potentially harmful external conditions. The dentist will apply the rubber-like material called the gutta-percha to seal the cleaned area and reinforce it using special dental cement.

A sealing process conducted by an experienced dentist will therefore cover the operated area and prevent bacteria from accessing the sensitive tissue and nerves. After having the root canal sealed, you can then prepare for a tooth filling that closes the tooth opening completely.

When you come in for the filling process, your dentist can also complete the root canal process by installing a new crown. This would be essential if your original tooth were severely damaged by tooth decay. Alternatively, if your original crown was in good condition, the doctor can restore it in your gums and help you return to a healthy dental state. 

Dental Care Tips After a Root Canal Procedure

When you are ready to return to your life after a root canal, your dentist will issue several aftercare tips to help maintain healthy teeth and gums. We recommend following the instructions as best as possible because you will avoid facing recurrent complications that warrant repetitive invasive procedures. 

Most aftercare tips involve protecting the area operated on until you make a full recovery. Thus, the tips are useful in preventing pain and keeping the restored tooth clean. Important care tips to follow are:

  • Brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day
  • Use mouthwash as directed by your dentist
  • Do not apply pressure on the operated area by using it to chew or bite
  • Use over the counter pain relief medicine as directed after the root canal procedure
  • Attend all follow-up checkups with your dentist to help him/her track your recovery process.

The Cost of Root Canal Procedures

The average cost of a root canal procedure in California depends on the type of tooth that the dentist is to work on. Thus, procedures on incisors and canines will cost you $500 to $1000, depending on the severity of your condition.

On the other hand, root canals on premolars and molars cost more, primarily because these two sets of teeth require more care. They also tend to be severely affected, as cavities and tooth decay worsen if a tooth has a larger surface area. Subsequently, you can expect to pay $800 to $1500 for a root canal on a tooth. 

As mentioned, please note that the price covers a root canal procedure on a single tooth. Hence, if two or more teeth require root canals, you want to budget for more expenses. Despite this, we are open to different payment plans that ease the pressure of paying a lump sum for treatment. We believe that your wellbeing should always be a priority, so you are welcome to raise your financial concerns with us. 

Typically, most patients worry about the costs they may incur for a root canal dental procedure. However, you should also note that since the surgical procedure is often a necessary medical procedure, most insurance companies are willing to cover the costs. 

Nevertheless, the amount of coverage you receive will depend on the type of insurance scheme you took out. You should also remember that the costs may range from the lower cost to more expensive ones depending on the number of teeth requiring root canal procedures or the severity of the current problem. 

Contact a Root Canal Dentist Near Me

If you experience excruciating pain in your tooth/ teeth, you may require a root canal procedure. However, you need an experienced dentist’s advice to determine if a root canal is the ideal treatment option. Also, your dentist should understand the potential risks and concerns involved in root canal procedures. 

With your dentist's help, you will decide on the most appropriate time to schedule your appointment. He/she will also discuss what to expect before and after the dental surgery. At Washington Dental, you will have access to excellent dentists who care about giving you the best dental care experience.
Over the years, we have performed multiple root canals on our patients to improve and restore their oral health. If you need a root canal procedure in Los Angeles, Carson, Torrance, or Lomita, California, contact us today for more information. We will be happy to serve you and help you prepare for the upcoming procedure.