What do candy-loving kids and grown adults with softened tooth enamel have in common? It's not a riddle, it’s a fact: both have spent their fair share of time at the dentist’s office.
Most people you ask have gotten a filling or two in their lifetime. Treating cavities is simple — and most dentists can agree it's a painless and no-fuss procedure.
But should the unlucky day come where your dentist says you need a root canal, there’s a good chance your palms will sweat and your heart will race a little faster.
“Everyone thinks root canals are scary, and they have such a negative connotation – but they’re really not,” says Dr. Yasmin Vakilian, Dentist at HealthOne. Whether you have a root canal scheduled or you’re curious to learn more about your pearly whites, we interviewed our very own dentist to learn everything you need to know.
What is a root canal?
To best explain what a root canal is, let’s take a step back and recap the basics about fillings. A filling is performed when a tooth has decayed or become damaged. During the procedure, the decayed portion is removed and filled with a filling material – such as porcelain inlay, onlay, or composite.
“A root canal is very similar to a filling,” Dr. Vakilian explains. “But instead of it being done on top of the tooth, it’s being done on the inner surface of the tooth. We basically just fill the inside of the roots of their teeth.”
In many cases, root canals can save a tooth that might otherwise need to be removed. It gets rid of the underlying infection, resolves any discomfort, and provides considerable relief to the patient experiencing pain. See? It isn't much scarier than the cavities you got filled when you were a kid.
What happens during a root canal?
During a root canal, your dentist will freeze the infected tooth with anesthesia so you don’t feel anything throughout the procedure. “The reason why someone would need a root canal is that the actual nerve inside of the tooth has been affected,” Dr. Vakilian says. “Since we can’t leave an infected nerve inside the tooth, we actually have to go inside and remove the infected nerve.”
Your dentist will also disinfect the area where the nerve resides to ensure no bacteria or infections occur, then finish the procedure by filling the area with filling material – similar to when they fill a cavity. The good news about removing an infected nerve is that the pain you experience will subside, but what many people don’t know is that tooth roots are an important part of your oral health.
“The nerve within the tooth actually provides the tooth with nutrition, hydration, and everything the tooth needs to stay alive,” she explains. Once that nerve has been removed, it compromises the tooth because it no longer has a nerve supply and causes it to become extremely weak.
This is why the last step of the root canal is so important: covering the tooth with a cap.
Dr. Vakilian says you can think of a cap like a hat. It’s applied on the surface of the tooth to protect everything on the inside, and it helps to keep the tooth sturdy and stable.
If a cap is not put over a tooth after a root canal, there’s a good chance the tooth will break over time. The pressure exerted from chewing and grinding is no match for a weakened tooth that just got a root canal. “By re-strengthening the tooth, it helps to protect the root canal that the patient has spent the time and money to get,” she adds. Stronger, healthier teeth are something we can all get on board with.
Is a root canal painful?
According to our dentist, the actual procedure of getting a root canal is not painful at all. Have your palms stopped sweating and your heart rate returned to normal yet? We sure hope so!
“It’s the reason why you would need a root canal that is usually painful,” she explains. “After the procedure, the pain goes away because we actually remove the infected nerve that is causing that pain in the first place.”
So, how do you know if you need a root canal? We asked Dr. Vakilian for the key signs to look out for.
What are the signs of needing a root canal?
The good thing about having nerves in your teeth is that they’ll let you know when something’s wrong. Dr. Vakilian shares that very sharp pain, especially if it gets worse when you’re laying down, is one of the main signs to look out for.
You should also be on the lookout for any abscesses or pus coming out of the gums. “Sometimes there’s no pain, but there’s a physical pimple on the gum,” she says.
The last sign to look out for is having a tooth that feels high in your mouth. “If you bite down and you feel like you’re biting on one tooth before the other teeth, and one almost feels like it’s been pulled out of the mouth a little bit, that’s another sign that you might need it.”
When in doubt, it’s never a bad idea to visit the pros. During a comprehensive oral examination with a dentist like Dr. Vakilian, you can have any concerns checked out and ask any questions you have about whether or not the symptoms you’re experiencing are normal.
Root canal cost in Toronto
At HealthOne Dental, Dr. Vakilian can perform a comprehensive examination of your teeth and determine whether or not you might need a root canal treatment.
For many people, the cost is an important factor when it comes to visiting the dentist. The price of a root canal at our clinic depends on many things, including how many canals are in the tooth and the severity of your infection.
“Any tooth that needs a root canal needs to be examined first, and then at that appointment, we’ll be able to discuss the cost,” Dr. Vakilian notes. Rest assured, our team will make sure your examination is performed with your comfort in mind in our modern and high-tech facility. You might even look forward to visiting the dentist when you choose HealthOne! We aim to make every patient’s experience as enjoyable as possible.
If you think you might need a root canal or want to book an oral examination, we’d love to have you as a patient at our dental clinic in downtown Toronto. Click here to book an appointment!
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