Root Canal Treatment FAQ | Root Canal Questions to Ask

Most dental patients are generally put off by the notion of getting a root canal because of all the negative connotations associated with the procedure. Oftentimes, patients think that a root canal treatment is extremely and unbearably painful and would therefore prefer to avoid having to do it altogether. Unfortunately, in cases where the tooth is very badly infected there isn’t really any other recourse available. To help ease some of the misgivings our patients have about undergoing this important dental procedure, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most frequently asked questions here.

1. Is it always necessary to get a root canal?

While it’s not always absolutely necessary to get a root canal in the event that your tooth becomes severely infected, the alternative treatment really isn’t that much more appealing. In lieu of a root canal, patients will most likely have to get their tooth extracted and replace with something to maintain the function of a tooth. In the dental community, the general consensus is that it’s much more preferable to try to salvage as much of the existing tooth as possible, which is why most dentists recommend a root canal instead of tooth extraction.

2. Is root canal treatment painful?

Contrary to popular belief, the procedure itself is virtually painless because your dentist will most likely give you a local anesthetic to numb the pain. Any pain, sensitivity, or discomfort you feel is usually caused by the infected tooth and not the procedure itself. In fact, you shouldn’t feel anything in the affected area while your dentist is performing the procedure.

3. Is it better to get a root canal or tooth extraction?

Most dental professionals would recommend getting a root canal and would only perform a tooth extraction as an absolute last resort. Tooth extraction can lead to a series of potential health risks including infection, shifting teeth, developing an under or overbite, and even temporomandibular joint syndrome.

4. Are you put to sleep during a root canal?

There are three types of anesthesia or numbing you can request from your dentist if you need a root canal: minimal, moderate, or deep sedation. The level of sedation required depends on your dentist’s training as well as your pain and discomfort threshold. If you opt for minimal or moderate sedation, you’ll still be awake and able to respond to inquiries from your dentist, but your mouth will either be partially or completely numb and you won’t feel any sensations throughout the procedure. During deep sedation, however, you’ll be put to sleep and will wake up with no memory whatsoever of the procedure.

5. How long does root canal treatment last?

Since a root canal is a complex procedure at its core, you might have to come in for two 90-minute sessions to complete it. This depends on the extent of the tooth decay or infection as well as the discretion of your dental professional.

6. Do you always have to have a crown with a root canal?

No, incisor and canine teeth don’t always require a crown after a root canal. However, premolars and molars, which are primarily used for chewing and breaking down food, need more strength and support. A crown provides the protection and stability these teeth require to perform their jobs without causing any physical pain or discomfort. They also effectively prevent reinfection.

7. How much does root canal treatment cost in Toronto?

The cost of a root canal varies depending on a number of factors. If you need a dental crown, then the price will invariably increase. However, most dentists in Toronto offer flexible payment plans and accept insurance coverage of all types to make it easier for patients to be able to afford this procedure.

8. Do root canals hurt more than dental fillings?

As mentioned, any pain you feel throughout the procedure (which you shouldn’t if you’re given anesthesia) isn’t from the root canal itself; it’s from the infection in your exposed tooth. The reality is that you shouldn’t feel any pain during a root canal treatment or dental filling as long as your dentist applies a sufficient amount of anesthesia prior to the procedure. They’ll usually start off with a small dosage and then ask you how you feel as they slowly proceed. If you need more because the pain is too overwhelming, then they’ll start from the beginning and give more anesthesia.

9. Can root canals fail?

Yes, there are many reasons that a root canal can fail. Namely, if the patient fails to adopt and maintain good oral health habits, a root canal can become re-infected. Additionally, the sealing materials can disintegrate or become damaged over time causing the dentin in the tooth to become exposed to the elements. Gum disease and caries can also adversely affect the roots of a tooth that’s been treated.

10. Is it safe to get a root canal?

Yes, as long as you consult with a well-trained and experienced dentist who’s completely comfortable performing the procedure and does so in a sanitary setting, there’s no reason why you should experience any complications from a root canal. It’s perfectly safe and in some cases, necessary.

11. What is the recovery period like?

The recovery time following a root canal procedure should be relatively simple and painless. There may initially be some sensitivity to biting but that goes away in a few days. If you do feel any pain, sensitivity or discomfort then you need to return to your dentist immediately because that means something may have gone wrong during the procedure. Once the treated area heals completely, your tooth will go back to functioning normally.

12. Are root canals considered a dental emergency?

Yes, root canals are absolutely considered dental emergencies and you should consult your dentist immediately if you suspect you might need one. Root canals are used to treat or correct abscess (infected) teeth or teeth that are broken or cracked. Usually in these cases, the dentin beneath the surface of the tooth, which is extremely sensitive to hot or cold temperatures, is exposed and needs to be repaired or covered up.

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