Root Canal Treatment

Quick Summary
Root Canal Treatment
Procedure Length
30 min to 1 hour
Topical anesthetic
To repair a badly damaged or infected tooth
Recovery Time
Less than a week
Side Effects
Pain, swelling, reduced tooth function, etc.
Final Results
About a week
Duration of Results
On average 8 to 10 years
Average Cost
$700 to $1,500

What is a root canal?

Root canals are dental procedures used to remove infected pulp tissue from the inside of a tooth. When dental pulp becomes infected, it can be extremely painful, resulting in a chronic toothache.

Anatomy of your teeth

A tooth is composed of four dental tissues:

  • Enamel (the hard shell)
  • Dentin (the soft middle layer)
  • Cementum (hard layer that coves root of tooth)
  • Dental pulp (the soft inner layer)

Dental pulp, which is made up of nerve tissue, lymph tissue and blood vessels, is the most important part of the tooth. This vital tissue runs through canals in the roots to the center of the tooth. Exposure to oral bacteria, a fractured tooth, or blunt trauma to the face cause dental pulp trauma.

Root canal therapy then is necessary to fight off infection and prevent future tooth loss.

Causes of root canal

Most commonly, root canals are required because of poor oral hygiene or dietary habits that lead to cavities.  Teeth can become infected due to severe tooth decay, cracks or chips. Failing dental fillings or dental crowns also can allow bacteria to seep into the dental pulp. Once exposed, the dental pulp dies, the body’s inflammatory responses take over, and the combined infection and inflammation result in a significant toothache.

Symptoms of infection

Some signs or symptoms that you might need a root canal include:

  • Pain while chewing or biting
  • Chipped or cracked tooth
  • Lingering sensitivity to cold or hot
  • Pimples on the gums.
  • Tender or swollen gums
  • Decay or darkening of the gums

If you suffer from a toothache, it is strongly recommended that you visit your dentist for a thorough evaluation. Severe tooth infections can have serious consequences. More extensive medical treatment, such as hospitalization, may be necessary if an infection spreads to the neck or around the eyes.

Root canal treatment

The root canal procedure involves carefully locating the center chamber of the pulp and shaping and cleaning the channels located below the pulp chamber.

Debris, such as nerve, lymph and blood tissue, bacteria and infection, is first removed from the pulp chamber and its surrounding areas. The canals are disinfected thoroughly, shaped, and filled to the ends of the roots.

Tooth extraction may be necessary in severe cases when a root canal will not save the tooth. You always have the option of removing a tooth instead of having a root canal, but saving a natural tooth is always a wise consideration.

The missing tooth can be replaced with a dental implant or dental bridge.

How long is the recovery time?

Usually, recovery time lasts less than a week. For the few few days, patients may experience mild discomfort, but this can be managed with medication.

How long will your results last?

Root canal treatments are usually successful at saving the tooth and clearing the infection. Results may last 8 to 10 years or longer.

Cost of root canal

The average cost of root canal is between $700 to $1,500.

The cost of root canal therapy varies depending on the severity of the condition, whether additional treatments are required and which teeth are being treated.

  • Front (anterior) tooth: $700 – $900
  • Bicuspid tooth: $700 – $1,000
  • Molar tooth: $1,000 – $1,500

Dental insurance can help offset the costs of root canal therapy, though the degree of financial assistance varies depending on your level of coverage.