Many people worry that a root canal will be painful, something that was true in the past. Today, with advanced anesthesia options and surgical techniques – a root canal is as comfortable as getting a filling. An infected tooth (pre-root canal), is usually what causes tooth pain, and a root canal is the solution to this problem. In fact, infected tooth pulp can cause a tooth abscess and can destroy the bone surrounding the tooth.
A treated and restored tooth can last a lifetime with proper care. Root canals have a high success rate and are significantly less expensive than the alternative, tooth extraction and replacement with a bridge or implant.
But tooth decay can still occur in treated teeth, so good oral hygiene and regular dental exams are necessary to prevent further problems.
To determine the success or failure of root canal treatment, dentists typically compare new X-rays with those taken prior to treatment. This comparison will show whether bone continues to be lost or is being regenerated.
Sometimes root canals are not successful because an infection develops inside the tooth, or the original infection was not fully removed. In these cases, an apicoectomy, a procedure where the infection and the root tip are removed and a filling placed, is done. Other times a second root canal is recommended.