dentist treat patients root canal

What Truly Qualifies as an Emergency Root Canal?

Thinking about dental emergencies often creates images of disastrous accidents causing traumatic injuries to the mouth, but did you know that extreme tooth pain from an infected tooth pulp can also qualify as an emergency?

Root canal therapy, categorized under endodontic procedures, is often the answer to the situation, especially for people who don’t want to lose their teeth. Although it has an undeserved bad reputation, this procedure is a cornerstone of emergency dentistry.

“What is an emergency root canal?” is a common question many individuals ask. Before discussing the specific details of an emergency root canal, it is important to have a basic understanding of root canals in general. Let’s explore root canals and what qualifies them as an emergency treatment.

What Is a Root Canal?

A root canal, sometimes referred to as root canal therapy or endodontic treatment, is one of the most common dental procedures carried out by an endodontist, a specialized branch of dentistry focusing on dental pulp and tissues surrounding the roots of teeth. This dental treatment becomes essential when a tooth pulp becomes infected or diseased, resulting in extreme tooth pain and, if left untreated, tooth loss. Root canal therapy is designed to rescue your natural tooth structure rather than resorting to tooth extraction.

What Is Emergency Root Canal?

A root canal emergency is a quick response procedure performed when there is severe tooth decay or infection that is causing intense pain and cannot wait for a scheduled treatment. It’s labeled as an “emergency” due to the urgency of the situation, typically involving extreme pain, swelling or abscess formation that requires immediate medical intervention. This procedure removes the infected pulp within the tooth to alleviate pain and prevent the spread of infection.

When Does a Root Canal Qualify as an Emergency Treatment?


Extreme Tooth Pain

Pain can range from a regular toothache to extreme tooth pain, sometimes even unbearable. Intense pain, especially when chewing food or applying pressure, may indicate an infected tooth pulp or severe damage to the tooth structure. Persistent discomfort or a painful toothache that prevents you from performing your regular tasks, regardless of taking over-the-counter pain relievers, needs an emergency root canal treatment.

Tooth Discoloration

Discoloration of teeth or discolored teeth can be a common sign of a decaying or diseased tooth. Tooth discoloration can also indicate dead nerve tissue. If you notice a gray or black tooth accompanied by constant tooth pain, it’s best to set up an emergency appointment with a root canal specialist or an emergency dentist as soon as possible.

Abscessed Tooth

An abscessed tooth can mean an accumulation of pus caused by a bacterial infection in the tooth pulp. This condition can present severe toothache, discomfort when chewing, persisting bad breath after wisdom tooth extraction and even swollen gums. It can lead to severe complications like blood infection if not attended to promptly. Seek immediate dental care if you suspect you have an abscessed tooth.

Unbearable Pain From Hot or Cold Foods and Drinks

Sensitivity or tooth pain when consuming hot or cold foods and drinks can be another sign of root canal emergencies. In such cases, it is essential to contact an endodontic specialist immediately to receive same-day emergency care to save your natural tooth structure and prevent extraction.

Traumatic Injuries

Accidents can result in oral trauma, leading to dental injuries such as cracks or fractures. If a traumatic injury has caused damage to your tooth that exposes the tooth pulp, it can lead to an infection requiring immediate root canal therapy. This needs a visit to a dental office that provides emergency dentistry services.

What Happens During the Root Canal Procedure?


Step 1: Initial Consultation and X-Ray

When you’re experiencing severe tooth pain, tooth sensitivity or any signs of infected tooth pulp, you must make an appointment with a licensed dentist who can perform root canal treatments. Upon your visit, the professional may request dental X-rays to have a clear image of the condition of your tooth root.

Step 2: Anesthesia

Contrary to root canals’ bad reputation, most individuals report they feel no more pain from this procedure than from a simple dental filling. This is because local anesthesia will be administered to numb the area surrounding the painful tooth to ensure you are comfortable and pain-free throughout the procedure.

Step 3: Pulp Removal

After applying an antiseptic solution to the area, the dentist will use a dental drill to create a small opening in the tooth, whether it’s a damaged tooth, decayed tooth or discolored tooth, to access the diseased or infected pulp. The pulp, which consists of blood vessels and connective tissue, is carefully removed. This is an essential step in the treatment to stop the spread of a tooth infection.

Step 4: Cleaning and Shaping the Canal Space

Post pulp extraction, the dentist will carefully clean, enlarge and shape the canal space to prepare it for canal treatment. An endodontic specialist specializing in procedures involving the inside of the tooth will remove any decayed material and bacteria from the tooth structure before applying an antiseptic solution again to disinfect the area.

Step 5: Filling of the Root Canal

Once the tooth root is prepped, the next step involves filling the canal with a special material, usually a rubber-like biocompatible material known as gutta-percha. The gutta-percha helps seal the canal, and the tooth opening is sealed with a filling.

Step 6: Dental Restoration

After the root canal therapy, the tooth is fragile and requires a dental crown for protection. A dental crown, made of special materials, helps provide strength and prevents further dental damage, such as tooth cracks, preserving the natural tooth structure. The crown fitting may require an additional appointment, and your dentist might provide a temporary crown until the permanent crown is ready.

How Much Do Emergency Root Canals Cost?

The cost of an emergency root canal can vary widely depending on various factors, including your location, insurance coverage, the complexity of the condition and the tooth needing treatment. However, the typical range could be anywhere from $700 to $1800 per tooth without insurance in the United States. If dental insurance is available, it might cover a significant portion of the treatment cost.

Consulting with your dentist or endodontist will provide a more accurate cost assessment based on your circumstances.

How to Recover Fast After an Emergency Root Canal Procedure?

  • Maintain Good Oral Hygiene. Just because your tooth underwent some dental work doesn’t mean you must keep it away from toothpaste and floss. Keep your mouth clean to prevent infection around the treated area. Use a soft toothbrush and be gentle around the affected tooth.
  • Follow Your Dentist’s Instructions. Most root canal treatments require follow-up appointments to ensure everything is healing correctly. Stick to your dentist’s instructions to ensure a pain-free and fast recovery.
  • Medication and Pain Management. The aftermath of a root canal can sometimes be accompanied by unbearable pain and discomfort. This is where over-the-counter pain medicine can help. Additionally, if your root canal specialist prescribes particular medication, take them as instructed.
  • Be Mindful of Your Eating Habits. Avoid extreme cases of cold and hot foods. Stick to soft and easily chewable food items to avoid accidentally biting the sensitive area.
  • Use a Cold Compress. A little bit of swelling is common after root canal therapy. A cold compress can help bring down the inflammation and provide relief from the discomfort.
  • Rest and Relaxation. Giving your body enough time to heal is crucial in any recovery process. Get ample rest and avoid stressful activities that increase blood flow to your head, as intense movement can worsen tooth pain.

If tooth pain persists or if a tooth infection arises after the procedure, it’s advisable to visit the dental office. Severe toothache is a sign that something is wrong, and it might indicate a need for emergency dental care. Immediate attention to dental discomfort can save you from further complications and contribute to the longevity of your natural teeth.

Save Your Smile With Kari Mann Dental Studio: Schedule Your Appointment Now

Handling a severe toothache can be daunting. However, understanding the signs of needing an emergency root canal procedure could just be your refuge. With advancements in dentistry, saving your natural teeth has been made possible. It’s always advisable to consult your dentist right away if you have persistent discomfort or other mouth irregularities, and never skip regular dental checkups.

At Kari Mann Dental Studio, we’re always ready to cater to your dental care needs, offering the best dental services. Book your appointment today for an emergency root canal treatment or other dental needs.

Let us restore the smile on your face and offer relief to your discomfort.

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