October 10, 2018
No one understands how misinformation can create needless anxiety better than a family dentist who performs root canal therapy. In truth, a root canal is one of the best ways to safeguard your oral health. Let’s learn a little more about this gentle, effective form of treatment.
Why a Root Canal Is Preferable to an Extraction
Upon learning they need a root canal, many patients shrug their shoulders and say, “why not just pull the tooth and be done with it?” That’s a fair question. Here’s the answer:
- A missing tooth is like a brick missing from the wall of a protective fortress. It weakens the entire structure of your teeth and jaw, setting you up for further tooth loss down the road.
- An extraction leaves behind an empty socket. Not only does the area remain sensitive after the procedure, the patient may suffer long-term risk of pain or infection.
- A missing tooth is an impediment to self-confidence. It’s always best to have a great smile when dealing with others on a personal or professional level.
What You Can Expect during a Root Canal
As with all dental procedures, your dentist will use pain blockers to ensure your comfort throughout the process. He or she may also use sedative to help you relax. Dental sedatives fall into three broad classes:
- Light sedative. The dentist uses either a tranquilizing agent such as Valium or nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas,” to induce a state of calmness. This type of sedative wears off quickly after the procedure.
- Moderate sedative, sometimes called “twilight anesthesia.” This is similar to a state of deep drowsiness. The patient remains conscious and is able to speak. You will need someone to drive you home afterwards.
- Full anesthesia. You’re already familiar with this option if you’ve ever undergone major surgery. The patient is asleep throughout the root canal and remembers nothing of the procedure. You will need someone to drive you home afterwards and you may feel groggy for a few days.
How Much Does a Root Canal Cost?
This question is difficult to answer because of the many factors that can affect how much the patient pays. For example, your tooth may only need a basic filling at the end of the procedure, in which case the costs are relatively low. On the other hand, you may find yourself paying more if you need a crown or other type of restoration.
Most forms of dental insurance cover a major portion of root canal surgery, typically between 35-50%. You may be able to spread the remaining balance over a period of time, either by obtaining private financing or setting up a payment plan with your dentist’s office.
Full recovery from a root canal generally takes about two weeks, although you should feel substantially better after the first seven days. Post-surgical discomfort can usually be managed with over-the-counter products such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. You should use care when brushing and flossing. You may want to adopt a soft food diet for a few days.
Modern root canal therapy is safe, gentle and effective. So don’t let misconceptions keep you from feeling better. Make an appointment today to speak with your dentist about your treatment options. You’ll look back on the decision with lots of reason to smile.
About the Author
Dr. Jacinthe Giroux completed her formal dentistry training at McGill University. She spent many years serving as a dentist in remote areas of Canada before setting up practice here in the US. You can reach her office online or by calling (781) 337-6644.
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