A root canal treatment is needed when a tooth’s nerve and associated blood vessels are irreversibly damaged by a fracture due to trauma, or by deep decay that has infected the nerve. The end result is the same – an infection that leads to an abscess at the base of the tooth. Usually, there is a throbbing pain in the tooth that is especially noticeable when lying horizontal, ie. in bed at night. There may also be a swelling in the jaw and it may be painful to chew. The tooth can usually be saved at this time.
The longer an abscess remains, the more difficult the root canal treatment may be. Also, the chances for post treatment complications increase and the success rate drops. If allowed to go long enough, permanent loss of the tooth may occur.
A dentist or endodontist (root canal specialist) can save a tooth by removing the diseased nerve tissue, cleansing and then filling the nerve chamber with a rubberlike material. This procedure can be done in one to three or more visits depending on the condition of the nerve. If there is an abscess, antibiotic therapy may be used as well as possibly draining the infected site.
Root canals can cost from $350 to $1,000 depending on the tooth involved.