What is a root canal?
A root canal is one of the most common dental procedures performed, with well over 14 million operations completed every year. This simple treatment can save your natural teeth and prevent the need for dental implants or bridges. At the center of every tooth, there is a soft tissue substance called pulp. Pulp is a collection of blood vessels and tissue that help to build the surrounding tooth. Infection of the pulp can be caused by trauma to the tooth, deep decay, cracks and chips, or repeated dental procedures. Symptoms of the infection can be identified as visible injury or swelling of the tooth, sensitivity to temperature, or pain in the tooth and gums.
If you experience any of these symptoms, your dentist will most likely recommend non-surgical treatment to eliminate the diseased pulp. In treatment, this injured pulp will be removed and the root canal system will be thoroughly cleaned and sealed. This therapy usually involves local anesthesia and may be completed in one or more visits, depending on the treatment required. Success for this type of treatment occurs in about 95% of cases. If your tooth is not amenable to endodontic treatment or if the chance of success is unfavorable, you will be informed at the time of consultation or when a complication becomes evident during or after treatment. We use local anesthesia to eliminate discomfort and will provide nitrous oxide analgesia if needed. You will be fully capable of driving yourself home after your treatment and should be comfortable returning to your normal routine.
What happens after treatment?
When your root canal therapy has been completed, a record of your treatment will be sent to your restorative dentist. You should contact their office for a follow-up restoration within a few weeks of completion at our office. Your restorative dentist will then decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth. It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine endodontic treatment or microsurgery. However, if a problem does occur, we are always available to respond with necessary action. To prevent further decay, continue to practice and maintain proper 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.
Root Canal Treatment
Root canal treatment is often a straightforward procedure if modern endodontic techniques (microscope, rubber dam, cone beam, and digital radiography) are used to diagnose, treat, and relieve dental pain to save your teeth.
Patients typically need a root canal when there is inflammation or infection in the roots of a tooth. During root canal treatment, our endodontists (who specialize in performing root canals) will carefully remove the tissue inside the tooth, clean, disinfect, shape the root canals, and place a filling to seal the space.
During retreatment, the endodontist will reopen your tooth and remove the filling materials that were placed in the root canals during the first procedure. The endodontist then carefully examines the tooth to look for additional canals or new infections. The endodontist then removes any infection, cleans and shapes the canals, and places new filling materials. The opening is then sealed with a temporary filling. Once the tooth heals, a new crown or other restoration is placed on the tooth to protect it.
Surgical Root Canal Treatment (Apicoectomy)
With an apicoectomy, the endodontist reflects the gum tissue near the tooth to expose the underlying bone and to remove any inflamed or infected tissue. The very end of the root (apex) is also removed.
A small filling may be placed at the apex to seal the end of the root canal and a few stitches or sutures are placed in the gingiva to help the tissue heal properly.
Over a period of time, the bone will heal around the end of the root and the tooth will be saved.
Whether your tooth cracks from an injury or general wear and tear, you can experience a variety of symptoms ranging from erratic pain when you chew your food or bite down. In most cracked-tooth cases, a root canal is unnecessary; but as experts in diagnosis, we can properly determine the most appropriate treatment path.
Traumatic dental injuries often occur as a result of an accident or sports injury. Most of these injuries are minor, such as chipped teeth. It is less common to dislodge your tooth or have it knocked out completely, but these types of injuries are more severe. Treatment will depend on the type, location, and severity of each injury. Sometimes, your neighboring teeth may suffer an additional, unnoticed injury that can only be detected by a thorough dental exam.
Regardless of how the trauma occurred, it is extremely important to see an endodontist as soon as possible to prevent further complications and possible tooth loss.
We are here to save your smile, so don’t put these injuries off. Book an appointment today!
Are Root Canals Painful?
Many endodontic procedures are performed to relieve the pain of toothaches caused by infection or pulp inflammation. Our highly trained endodontists know a great deal about how to help you manage pain effectively. With modern techniques and anesthetics, most patients report that they are completely comfortable and at ease during their procedure.
For the first few days after treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive (especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure). Over-the-counter medications such as Advil® or Tylenol® are the most adequate solutions in combating this kind of discomfort. However, in some cases, it may be necessary to use prescription medications after the procedure to reduce pain.
It is normal for the tooth undergoing the root canal to feel slightly different from your other teeth for some time after the treatment is completed. Of course, if you are experiencing pressure or pain that lasts more than a few days, be sure to call us to discuss your condition with our staff. Our goal is to preserve your natural smile and for the dental experience to be as comfortable as possible–both during and after your treatment.
Would it be easier to have my tooth pulled?
Sometimes your teeth may have an infection or disease and will need dental care. When possible, you should always consider treatments that will save your teeth. You may think, “Why not have a tooth pulled, especially if no one can see it?” But you will know that your tooth is missing and it will negatively impact your quality of life. Don’t get a tooth pulled simply because you think it will be easier or more cost-effective. Missing teeth can cause other teeth to shift, affect your ability to properly chew, and ruin your smile. Tooth extraction can be more painful than the infection itself and replacing an extracted tooth with an artificial one requires additional dental visits that can quickly add up in cost.
How long does a typical root canal take?
Typical root canal treatments typically take one to two visits that are roughly 60-90 minutes per visit.
Do I have to have a referral from my dentist?
Are treatments the same day as the evaluation?
It’s highly possible that treatment can be scheduled the same day as your evaluation, but that will often depend on when you make your appointment. Try to make your appointment as soon as you are informed that you may need to see our endodontist. The further out you schedule your appointment, the better. When you schedule your endo appointment, let the assistant know if you would like to be treated the same day so we can do our best to accommodate you. At any rate, if you arrive at our endo clinic with a severe toothache, we will do what is necessary to relieve or at least reduce your pain until you can get definitive treatment at your next scheduled appointment.
Can my dentist just perform the root canal?
Although some root canal treatments can be performed by general dentists, the techniques and equipment used by endodontists provide the greatest success rate and your dental health is our highest priority.