Root canal treatment is one of the most common, yet most dreaded dental procedures, and for the wrong reasons. Most people assume it is very painful, which is a misconception. At La Puente Advanced dentistry, we are top-rated dentistry and we pride ourselves in restoring and enhancing teeth using state-of-the-art procedures and equipment.

If you are looking for affordable and reliable dentistry for your root canal treatment in the La Puente area, contact us to book an appointment.

What is Root Canal Treatment?   

Root canal treatment is part of a restorative procedure that you need to have when the nerve of your tooth is affected by infection or decay. The pulp or the tissue inside the tooth, nerves, and decay are removed to save your tooth. The hollow space left by the pulp removal is disinfected and filled with a unique dental material, which restores your tooth and allows it to perform as usual.

Why the Pulp Needs to Be Removed

When the tooth pulp gets damaged, bacteria multiply in the chamber. The dying pulp and bacteria cause an abscess or a pocket with pus at the tooth's root. Other than the abscess, a root canal infection causes:

  • A swelling that can quickly spread to other areas of your head, neck, and face
  • Loss of bone at the tip of the root
  • Drainage issues that extend to the root. A cavity can occur through the tooth’s side, draining into your gums or via the cheek into your skin.

Signs That You Need a Root Canal

The pulp can become infected or inflamed due to repeated dental procedures, decay, chip or crack in the tooth, large fillings, or facial trauma. The signs indicating you need root canal therapy include:

  • Severe tooth pain when you apply pressure or chew
  • Prolonged pain or sensitivity to cold or hot temperatures long after the heat or cold is removed.
  • Darkening or tooth discoloration
  • Tenderness and swelling in the adjacent gum
  • A recurring pimple on the gums

Sometimes you may have no apparent symptoms.

Can Children Get Root Canal Treatment?

If a child is about to lose a tooth, a root canal may be necessary. Some instances where a tooth canal is necessary may be :

  • If the tooth gets damaged by injury or accident
  • If the tooth is infected
  • If an abscess has formed, etc

The Root Canal Procedure

The root canal procedure needs several dentist visits and can either be performed by an endodontist or dentist. An endodontist is a dentist who majors in the causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of injuries and diseases to the dental pulp.

Choosing which dentist to use mainly depends on the general dentist’s willingness to work with your teeth. This willingness or hesitation could be due to the root canal’s difficulty level. Your endodontist will discuss the treatment and advise you on the way forward. The process involves the dentist placing root canal files of varying diameters (ascending in diameter) into the access hole, then pushing down the tooth’s entire length to scrub the tooth canal sides.

Sodium hypochlorite or water is periodically used for flushing away the dirt and debris. Once the tooth is clean, it has to be sealed. Some dentists may give it a week before filling it. If you have an infection in the tooth, the dentist will put medication inside the tooth chamber. Others may opt to seal the tooth the same day. If the root canal procedure does not proceed to its conclusion, the dentist places a temporary filling in the exterior tooth to keep out contamination until your next appointment.

During your subsequent appointment, the dentist fills the tooth interior using a rubber compound (gutta percha) and a sealer paste. The exterior access hole drilled earlier is sealed with a filling. The final step involves more tooth restoration. A tooth that requires root canal therapy may have had severe decay, a large filling, or other weaknesses. The tooth needs repair to prevent it from further damage and restore its functions. Your dentist will discuss additional dental work if necessary.

Adding a Crown After Root Canal Treatment

A crown is a cap that entirely covers your natural tooth. After a root canal, a crown might be necessary to prevent your tooth from fracturing. A crown can be made from ceramic, porcelain or metal (or both), or powdered glass.

The dentist will chip away at the decayed tooth and use the crown to replace the removed tooth. Before a crown is fitted, the dentist will take a mold of your tooth to ensure the crown is the correct size and shape; and that it will fit your tooth correctly. Dental cement is used for gluing the crown to your now trimmed tooth. If trimmed and only a small piece of the tooth is left, a post is fixed in the root canal, which helps to keep the crown in its place.

Benefits of a Root Canal Procedure

When you are aware of the benefits of a root canal procedure, you can make informed decisions on having one. A bacteria-infected tooth stays infected unless you effectively manage it. When you go into a dentist’s office to treat a cavity, your dentist will assess the situation and determine whether a dental filling is suitable or not.

A dentist can't restore a tooth with severe infection via traditional means. The tooth has no choice but to be removed, or a root canal performed. Any dentist will try as much as possible to avoid extracting a tooth by exploring all possible options. Some advantages of a root canal include:

  • Getting Rid of Pain

One of the significant advantages of a root canal is that it eliminates the debilitating tooth pain and infection in your mouth. A root canal relieves the inflammation pressure from your tooth pulp. Within one or two days after the treatment, you can go back to using your tooth with no pain.

  • Saves Your Tooth

A dentist performs a root canal to avoid extracting your tooth. This means you can save your tooth and continue to enjoy its full function. After the root canal procedure, the tooth has no tissue in the cavity but remains in the mouth to continue its normal operations.

  • Cost-effective

Once you lose your teeth, you can get them back via a prosthesis. However, fixed and removable prostheses are very costly compared to a root canal. Examples of dental prostheses include:

  • Crowns or caps that cover the remaining natural tooth if a large part of the tooth is lost or damaged.
  • Bridges that are used to bridge gaps between your natural teeth. They are held in place by crowning an adjacent tooth or stuck to the next tooth via a metal wing, using unique adhesive.
  • Inlays, which are alternatives to crowns, and are made from resins, ceramics, or metal.
  • Onlays, which are similar to inlays but cover the tooth cusp, and help in strengthening or reinforcing a tooth.
  • Veneers, which are thin ceramic or resin sheets glued to teeth surfaces. They restore rotated or damaged teeth and for beauty.

How Successful is Root Canal Treatment?

A root canal successfully clears infections and saves your tooth from extraction. Out of ten root canals, nine survive for between eight to ten years. Fitting a crown after a root canal improves the survival rate of the tooth and protects it from further damage. Keeping your treated tooth clean will help it survive for many more years.

As mentioned, when you properly care for your teeth that have undergone root canal therapy, they can last a long time. Sometimes, a tooth or teeth that have been treated fail to heal properly and become infected and painful after many months, and sometimes years after the root canal.

If the infection recurs, the dentist can redo the root canal. If the treatment was of the highest quality, but infections recur, a minor surgery removes the tip of the root (apicoectomy).

Root Canal Post Treatment Care

After the root canal procedure, your dentist or endodontist will give you instructions on care and pain management of your teeth until your next appointment. Following the endodontists’ instructions for teeth care is especially significant when a crown or filling is in place.

As the medication wears off, you will experience some tenderness in the tooth area for a few days and some jaw soreness from your mouth staying open during the treatment. These symptoms will eventually go away with over-the-counter medication. Your doctor may give you some stronger medications containing narcotics, and which make you drowsy. Avoid driving or operating any machinery after a root canal treatment until the effects of the medication wear off.

You may take a bit of time to get used to the new crown. If you experience any of these symptoms, see your endodontist immediately:

  • Severe pressure or pain that lasts over a few days
  • A visible swelling outside or inside the mouth
  • Allergic reactions to medicine such as severe itching or an unexplained rash
  • Uneven bite
  • The temporary filling or crown comes off
  • Symptoms experienced before the root canal recur

After the root canal procedure, wait for the numbness to fade before attempting to eat anything, or you might bite your tongue or the inside of your cheek. Until the treatment is finalized, avoid biting down or chewing with the tooth to avoid further damage. Brush daily, as usual, to ward off infections.

Foods to Avoid After a Root Canal

After a root canal, you need to stick to soft foods such as cooked vegetables, mashed potatoes, rice, hummus, etc. Do not attempt to eat hard or crunchy foods immediately after the treatment. Examples of hard-to-chew foods include nuts, potato chips, gum, caramel, or candy. After the crown is fitted, stay clear of excessively hot or cold stuff like tea, coffee, or ice cream as the tooth will be more sensitive immediately after the treatment. If your dentist fixes your tooth with a  temporary crown, stay away from the above food types until the treatment is done. You will be asked to avoid chewing on the new crown. This advisory can be from a few hours to an entire day, depending on which glue or adhesive that the dentist applied.

Other Post-Procedure Best Practices

You will experience some soreness after the root canal treatment. As mentioned, you can take some over-the-counter (OTC)painkillers such as Tylenol or ibuprofen. Your dentist will ask you to continue brushing your teeth, as usual, to keep them clean but you should avoid flossing on each side of the newly fixed crown.

This is to prevent the temporary crown from coming loose. The dentist may also suggest salt water gargling thrice a day to minimize any inflammation.  The endodontist will prescribe some meds and you should follow the prescription to the letter.

How Much a Root Canal Costs and Why the Prices Vary

Emergency visits to the dentist are very costly. This is the reason it's recommended that you schedule oral checkups at least twice a year to stave off any issues. If your tooth needs a root canal, research how much root canals cost and why the cost premises on other factors. Most dental insurance policies reduce your costs by covering endodontic treatment.

Here are a few factors that affect the price.

  • Location

The amount dentists charge varies greatly. According to the American Association of Endodontists-, the most significant factor in price is the tooth location. If the cavity is in a front tooth, the less you pay because front teeth have a single root, while molars can have up to three roots. More roots mean more work for the dentist. The country region you live in may also determine your costs.

  • Tooth Issue Severity

Another pricing factor in root canals is the severity of the cavity and the level of treatment. Visit your dentist as soon as you notice a problem. If you have an infection and ignore it, it might become more severe, making what might have been a filling becomes a crown, and your final bill more expensive.

What to Expect After a Tooth Canal

A root canal relieves your initial tooth pain. Until the root canal procedure is finished and the dentist places a crown or filling, if necessary, you need to minimize chewing on the tooth. This helps prevent recontamination of the excavated tooth interior and prevents a weak tooth from breaking before restoration.

For a few days after the root canal procedure, your tooth might be sensitive due to tissue inflammation. This mostly happens if you had an infection and pain before the root canal treatment. You can contain the discomfort or sensitivity with over-the-counter pain medication such as naproxen (Aleve) ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil).

 By the next day, most people can go about their business with no issues. On oral care, you should floss and brush regularly and honor your dentist’s appointments without fail. Root canal treatments are very successful, with the procedure having a 95% success rate.

Possible Complications of Root Canal Treatment

Despite the endodontist’s best efforts in cleaning and sealing the tooth, it is possible to get a new infection. Some of the reasons for new infections include:

  • More than the expected root canal procedures in one tooth, which leaves one tooth uncleaned
  • An undetectable crack in the root
  • An inadequate or defective dental restoration allows bacteria to pass through the restorative sealant/crown into the inner tooth and recontaminate it.
  • Breaking down of the inner sealant material after some time, allowing bacteria to get through and cause re-contamination

Sometimes when you get a re-infection, you can get retreatment successfully. In other instances, you can get endodontic surgery to save your tooth. The most common surgical procedure is root-end resectioning or apicoectomy.

This surgery relieves infection or inflammation in the bony area near the tooth’s end. The gum tissue is split open, and the surgeon removes the infected tissue. Sometimes the end of the root has to be removed, and a filling is used to seal the root canal.

Are there Alternatives to Root Canal Treatment?

The best option in any situation is trying to salvage your natural tooth if possible. Your natural teeth give you the freedom to eat anything you like, and so, when necessary, a root canal is the best viable option.

The following alternative to a root canal is extraction. The tooth is then replaced by an implant, bridge, or removable dentures to chew and prevent the shifting of the adjacent teeth. These alternatives are more costly than a root canal and require extensive treatment over time and many other procedures to the adjacent teeth and their supporting tissues.

Find a La Puente Dentist Near Me

If you are looking for root canal treatment, we invite you to get in touch with our team at La Puente Advanced Dentistry. We serve the LA Puente area, and our team is always ready to serve you. Contact us today at 626-626-7075 to schedule your appointment. We have years of experience in general and cosmetic dentistry and we are here for all your root canal needs.