Root Canal Treatment

What is root canal treatment?

A root canal is one of the most common dental procedures performed, well over 14 million every year. This simple treatment can save your natural teeth and prevent the need of dental implants or bridges.

“Endo” is the Greek word for “inside” and “odont” is Greek for “tooth.” Endodontic treatment treats the inside of the tooth.

To understand endodontic treatment, it helps to know something about the anatomy of the tooth. Inside the tooth, under the white enamel and a hard layer called the dentin, is a soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue and creates the surrounding hard tissues of the tooth during development.

The pulp extends from the crown of the tooth to the tip of the roots where it connects to the tissues surrounding the root. The pulp is important during a tooth’s growth and development. However, once a tooth is fully mature it can survive without the pulp, because the tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it.

Why would I need an endodontic procedure?

Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes: decay, deep restorations, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, fractures, or periodontal disease. In addition, an injury to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.

Endodontic Presentation

To provide you with a better understanding of endodontic therapy, we have provided the following multimedia presentation. Many common questions pertaining to root canals are discussed.

Endodontic Presentation

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What are the signs of needing endodontic treatment?

Signs to look for include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, tenderness to touch and chewing, discoloration of the tooth, and swelling, drainage and tenderness in the lymph nodes as well as nearby bone and gingival (Gum) tissues. Sometimes, however, there are no symptoms.

Endodontic Procedure

Endodontic treatment will usually be performed in one or two visits and involves the following steps:

1. The endodontist will examine the tooth and perform a variety of tests on the tooth including xrays to determine if the endodontic treatment is necessary. If necessary, the endodontist will administer local anesthetic and after the tooth is numb the endodontist will place a rubber dam around the tooth to isolate it and keep it free of saliva during the procedure.

2. The endodontist will then make a small opening into the crown (biting surface) of the tooth. Very small instruments are used to clean the pulp from the pulp chamber and root canals of the tooth.

3. After the space is cleaned and shaped, the endodontist will fill the root canals with a biocompatible material, usually a rubber-like material called “gutta-percha”. The gutta-percha is placed with an adhesive cement to ensure complete sealing of the root canals. In most cases a temporary filling is placed to close the opening in the crown. The temporary filling will be replaced by a permanent filling by your dentist.

4. After your final visit with your endodontist, you must return to your dentist to have a crown or other restoration placed on the tooth to protect it and restore it to full function.

5. If the tooth lacks sufficient structure to hold a restoration your dentist or endodontist may place a post inside your tooth.

What will I feel during and after the procedure?

Many endodontic procedures are performed to relieve the pain of toothaches caused by pulp inflammation or infection. With modern techniques and anesthetics, patients report that they are comfortable during the procedure.

For the first few days after treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. This discomfort can be relieved with over-the-counter or prescription medications. Follow your endodontist’s instructions carefully, and contact our office if you have any questions or concerns.

Your tooth may continue to feel slightly different from your other teeth for some time after your endodontic treatment is completed. However, if you have severe pain or pressure or pain that lasts more than a few days, call your endodontist.

tooth after endodontic treatmentWhat happens after treatment?

When your root canal treatment has been completed, a record of your treatment will be sent to your general dentist. You should contact their office for a restoration within a few weeks of completion at our office. Your restorative dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth.  To prevent further decay, continue to practice good dental hygiene.

How much will it cost?

The cost associated with this procedure can vary depending on factors such as the severity of damage to the affected tooth and which tooth is affected. In general, endodontic treatment is much less expensive than tooth removal and replacement with an artificial tooth.