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Root Canal Dentistry in Pittsburgh

With Dentist Dr. Dan Rairigh

Man with healthy attractive smile

Root canal therapy is performed when a tooth is threatened by current or inevitable future infection. To cure the infection and save the tooth, root canal therapy is performed by a dentist.

What is Root Canal Therapy?

Root canal therapy (endodontics) is the process of removing the dental pulp (nerves and blood vessels) within a tooth, measuring, cleaning, shaping, and disinfecting the root canal space prior to placing a filling.

A tooth that requires root canal therapy can range from having no pain to very severe pain and swelling. Often when a tooth reaches the point where a root canal is required, the only alternative is an extraction. With today’s advancements, root canal therapy can usually be performed painlessly and quickly.

The treatment may take 1- 2 or more visits depending on the infection present and the complexity of the treatments. Antibiotics may or may not be necessary, as sometimes a root canal needs to be completed without an actual infection being present (also known as vital root canal therapy).

Root canal therapy may be necessary for following reasons

  • Abscessed tooth
  • Cavity that has entered the nerve space
  • Trauma that’s causing chronic pain and inflammation (pulpitis)
  • A fracture or break that has damaged the dental pulp
  • A deep cavity that’s caused damage to a nerve
  • An X-ray shows bone damage due to pulpal death (necrosis)

What is involved with root canal procedure?

First, the patient is numbed thoroughly. After the patient is comfortable, a protective device called a rubber dam is placed (like a safety net) to protect the patient from swallowing anything and keep the tooth isolated from contaminates in the saliva. If present, any cavities are thoroughly removed. Then, a small hole is made to expose the dental pulp. The canals where the nerves and blood vessels in the tooth are found are located. The number of canals vary depending on the tooth and that particular patient’s anatomy. Typically, front teeth have 1 canal, premolars have 1-2, and molars have 3-4. After these canals are located, they are measured, cleaned, shaped, and disinfected to allow for a permanent root sealing material to be placed. This is typically done with a material called gutta-percha. After the permanent seal is placed, an X-ray is taken to verify successful root canal therapy. Usually, the tooth then requires a core (a new filling to replace missing tooth structure) and a crown to strengthen the tooth to allow long term success and prevent fracture and leakage of the permanent root seal.

Often root canal therapy can be completed by a general dentist, but sometimes a specialist completes the treatment if the tooth has badly curved roots or had a previous root canal treatment. Root canal therapy when performed properly has a high success rate of over 90%!

Frequently Asked Questions – Root Canal Therapy

anatomy of a tooth against light blue background

No one ever expects that they’re going to need a root canal, but this procedure is actually much more common than you might have realized. There are a lot of misconceptions about root canal therapy out there, so you likely have some questions you’ll want answered before you commit to the procedure. Our team will take the time to thoroughly explain the treatment and answer any of your questions. In the meantime, it may ease your apprehensions to read through this list of some of our most frequently asked questions about root canal therapy.

Are Root Canals Painful?

Perhaps the most pervasive rumor about root canals is that they’re painful. However, the pain that is often associated with root canals usually comes from the awful toothaches that many people experience before they undergo the procedure. In fact, root canal therapy is designed to relieve pain by removing the infection inside of your tooth.

Modern dental technology has advanced to the point that getting a root canal should be about as comfortable as getting a standard filling. Before beginning, we’ll make sure your mouth is completely numb using a local anesthetic. We also offer sedation options to maximize your comfort. You may be sore for a few days afterward, but that can be easily managed with an over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen.

Is It Better to Have My Tooth Extracted?

Extracting a problematic tooth might seem like the perfect solution. After all, it eliminates the issue right at the source. However, losing a tooth can come with a whole new set of complications. Because the tooth’s roots no longer stimulate the jawbone, you’ll gradually lose bone density. The adjacent teeth may shift out of place to try and fill in the gap. This increases your risk of several oral health problems, including gum disease, cavities, and further tooth loss. Not to mention, replacing a lost tooth can be expensive.

You can avoid these complications and preserve your natural smile by getting a root canal. Most teeth that have been treated with root canal therapy go on to last the rest of a patient’s life.

How Long Can I Put Off Getting a Root Canal?

Waiting too long to get the root canal you need could cause the damage to worsen. The infection could spread to other teeth or even other areas of your body. Plus, the original tooth might be irreparably damaged, leaving extraction as the only option. If we tell you that your tooth needs to be saved with a roto canal, we recommend scheduling that procedure as soon as you can.

How Much Does a Root Canal Cost?

There isn’t a set cost of root canal therapy because the price is determined by your specific treatment plan. During your consultation, we can give you a cost estimate and discuss your payment options, like using dental insurance or third-party financing plans. We’ll help you come up with a solution that allows you to save your natural smile without breaking the bank.

More Questions about Root Canal Therapy?

Contact us today by calling 412-854-2310 and find out more about services provided by Dr. Dan Rairigh’s office in the Pittsburgh area.