How to Know if You Need an Emergency Root Canal? | Kirkland Premier Dentistry
Photo of the office manager on the phone

How to Know if You Need an Emergency Root Canal?

January 1, 2023

When the tooth is severely damaged which also involves the pulp chamber and the nerve, it can cause excruciating pain. Trauma, damage, or decay can also involve the pulp chamber. In such cases, waiting is not an option and you will need a same-day emergency root canal. When the damage or infection is not so severe, you still need to see your dentist and get an appointment for RCT before the pain becomes unbearable.

You will eventually need an emergency root canal treatment if you have been ignoring the pain or damage in the tooth. A root canal will save your tooth in time or you will need to extract the tooth. A root canal treatment is always considered an emergency to save a dying tooth.


Here is a list of emergency root canal symptoms

  • Severe pain- with a compromised pulp chamber, you will have excruciating pain which gets worse when you chew or bite down. The pain may radiate to other teeth, jaw or to the face.
  • Severely infected tooth with pus or discharge- there may be some discharge from the infected tooth or gums causing bad odor and bad taste.
  • Badly damaged tooth- there may be cracks, decay, or chipping. Due to the compromise in the integrity of the tooth, infection will reach the nerves and the pulp.
  • Tooth discoloration and discomfort- poor blood supply as a result of infection will cause the tooth to appear darker or discolored.
  • Swollen gums or gum pimples- you may have swollen gums. Gum pimples or boils are a sign of infection. Trapped pus may also cause the jaw to swell.
  • Sometimes there will not be any pain or other emergency root canal symptoms. On examination, your dentist will notice damage or decay or infection. You will be advised a root canal treatment if the tooth can still be saved.


What to do while waiting for the root canal?

While you await root canal treatment in Kirkland, you can take some measures at home to relieve the symptoms and prevent the infection from spreading.

  •     Take ice pack or place ice over the area of pain or tenderness
  •     A hot pack over the jaw can also provide relief
  •     Take over the counter anti-inflammatory medicines
  •     Do salt water gargles few times a day
  •     If you have been prescribed antibiotics, take them as advised
  •     Avoid smoking
  •     Avoid irritating foods and drinks



How long does an emergency root canal take?

The procedure time depends upon which tooth needs RCT as well as the severity of damage present. Sometimes, the emergency root canal treatment can be completed in a day. At other times, a second visit may be necessary. When the tooth is severely infected, the first visit will be used to clean and clear the infection. You will be given antibiotics and antibacterial medication will be placed in the tooth. This will provide you with significant relief. More thorough disinfection and cleaning is carried out on the second visit. The tooth is permanently sealed. Sometimes one may get a crown to protect the tooth.

For the root canal treatment, you should be prepared to spend between 90 minutes to 3 hours for the treatment at the dentist. This includes inspection, anesthesia, preparation, and the main procedure. The average time is between 30-90 minutes.

For molars, it will take around 90 minutes because these can have up to four canals. A dentist has to remove the roots, disinfect the tooth and surrounding area, fill the tooth and give you after care instructions.

Premolars have one to two roots, therefore taking less time for RCT. RCT for a premolar takes an hour or more.

Canines and incisors take the least time as they have a single root.

If the damage is severe or additional treatment like a crown is needed, that adds up to the total time.


Is an emergency root canal procedure painful?

It is a myth that this treatment causes pain and this myth must be debunked so that people get the required treatment to save their tooth. The truth is that the sooner you get the treatment, the sooner your discomfort is relieved. Before starting the treatment, you are given an anesthetic so that you don’t feel any pain during the treatment. The procedure itself removes the source of pain as abscess is cleared and infected tissue is removed. This provides immediate relief. Do not delay your RCT because a delay will lead to worsening symptoms and you may lose the tooth.


What is the procedure for the routine or emergency root canal treatment?

The first step is examination of the dental cavity and X-Rays to assess damage and infection. After this, the preparation is done beginning with anesthesia. If you have anxiety, you may be given sedation.

To isolate the tooth and keep it dry, a rubber dental dam will be placed. The dentist will make an opening in the crown to reach the pulp.

Tiny dental instruments will be used for removing the nerve, infected tissue, and blood vessels. This will not be painful for you due to anesthesia.

Then the dentist cleans the pulp chamber of the tooth, cleans the root canal, disinfects it and shapes it for the next process.

Then the empty canals are filled with a rubbery substance.

A temporary dental filling may be used to prevent infection and to seal the cavity. You may be called for a second visit for final restoration. Sometimes, when the damage is minimal, final restoration may be done in the same sitting. Some people require a crown after RCT.


How long does a root canal hurt?

Emergency root canal actually relieves the pain. The pain or sensitivity after the procedure is tolerable and will remain for a few days. It is easily controlled with over the counter painkillers and anti-inflammatory medicines. The pain is many times less than that due to infection or decay.


 How long does it take to recover from a root canal?

Root canal recovery time is not too long. Most people recover in a week or less. For some, it may take up to two weeks. Root canals do not cause any significant discomfort. If you feel significant discomfort or pain, reach out to your expert Kirkland endodontist. Please follow the instructions given by your dentist for after care to speed up the recovery. Brush twice a day, floss regularly, and eat soft foods during the healing phase.



  • What is the root canal treatment cost without insurance ?

 The cost of the root canal treatment depends on many factors. The type of tooth, type of dentist, your age, the anatomy of your tooth, your choice for sedation and restorative treatments can play a definitive role in the total cost of RCT with or without insurance. 

If we talk about the cost of RCT without insurance, the cost varies according to the type of tooth. A front tooth RCT may cost between $700-$1400. RCT for a premolar may cost between $800-$1600. Since molars have more roots, it may cost between $1000-$1600. 

Dental insurance brings down the total cost of root canal treatment by a considerable measure. You can contact us at Kirkland to get an estimate after your initial assessment. 

  • Can RCT be done in one day?

With modern technology and expertise, it is possible for RCT to be completed in a day. It saves time and it can also prevent infection in the open tooth. You can get a one day RCT in Kirkland from the best experts. Emergency cases are usually covered in two visits because a tooth being retreated or damaged or severely infected or having multiple roots like a molar, will need more cleaning and restoration time. Your dentist would want to ensure that there are no flare ups or infections later on.

  • Which doctor is best for root canal?

Endodontists have an expertise in root canal treatments. They are the best people to treat your tooth pain and perform RCT. If you are searching for 24 hour root canal treatment near me, please reach out to us to get treated by the best Kirkland endodontist.

  • Is a tooth still alive after a root canal?

A fully developed tooth can survive without nerves as it can receive nourishment from surrounding tissues. Thus, a tooth is still alive and functional after root canal treatment. RCT is aimed at saving a tooth which would otherwise die from decay or infection. 

we'd love to hear from you

    Thank you!

    Your message has been received. We will respond as soon as possible.
    Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.