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Ask the Doctor: Root Canal

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Posted: Friday, February 14, 2014 8:53 am

What is a root canal?

If decay causes an infection in the nerve chamber of a tooth or if the tooth is damaged by trauma involving the nerve, a root canal treatment is often the only option to save the tooth. A dentist or specialist (endodontist) removes the damaged or infected nerve and replaces it with a special type of filling. It is essentially a large filling encompassing the full length of the tooth. The tooth structure still remains in the bone and can be functional without pain. Since the nerve and nutrients are removed by the root canal treatment, the tooth may require a crown to provide strength and protection from tooth breakage and tooth loss.

How is it determined whether a crown should be put on or not?

After the nerve and blood circulation is removed by a root canal treatment, the tooth may become very brittle with time. If it is a molar or pre-molar it is standard care to put a crown on the tooth since the back teeth take the brunt of the force of the bite. Front teeth will not always need on a crown because it has less force on bite.

If a tooth is discolored, it may mean the nerve inside the tooth has died. This is often caused by trauma to the tooth. This process of the nerve dying often happens over a long period of time and often years. The nerve tissue is still there but dead. This is another reason to have a root canal. If there is no decay or nothing fractured then you don’t need to crown the tooth. After the root canal treatment, the tooth can be bleached from within the empty nerve chamber; bringing the original color back to the tooth.

How long is the root canal procedure?

Typically it is done in one setting – about 1-2 hours long. Other times it is done in two steps. Sometimes the dentist may wait for two weeks after the first appointment to let the bacteria drain and clear up before doing a permanent filling.

Is it painful?

Ninety percent of the time patients go to work in minimal pain. Often, there is minimal discomfort. The key is to get these procedures done before the tooth is extremely infected. Infection is hard to control once it is active and it is the infection that causes the pain.

Does insurance typically cover this procedure?

Yes. Most PPO plans cover the procedure about 50-80%.



BellaVista DentalCare Group

Rashmi Bhatnagar

15715 S. 46th St. Suite 104

Phoenix, AZ 85048

Office: 480.598.5900

www.BellaVistaDentalCare.com

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