Root Canals & Endodontics
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More About Root Canals & Endodontics
Do you have specific teeth that hurt? You may have a cavity that has spread to your tooth’s nerve, causing an infection…
“Endo” is Greek for inside while, “odont” is greek for tooth. Endodontists are dentists who specialize in saving your natural teeth. By looking inside the infected tooth, at the dental pulp and tissues that surround the roots of a tooth, they deal with the removal of infected nerves. However, root canal therapy and procedures range in degrees of difficulties and most general dentists still do the ones that are not overly complicated.
You’ll often need a root canal when you have an untreated cavity that spread the pulp of your tooth and causes infection in your nerves. If the infection is left untreated it can turn into an abscess (a more serious issue that can result in bone loss in the jaw).
If you have 1 or more teeth that are sensitive and in pain, please contact us so we can do an exam and x-rays to diagnose why you are in pain.
There is the stigma that a root canal is a painful, agonizing procedure when in actuality, root canal therapy is given to relieve the pain the patient is suffering from.
- The benefits of the procedure will alleviate the pain caused by the infected tooth.
- In most cases, advances in dental technology, local anesthetics and the right aftercare pain medication allow the surgery to be done with minimal pain.
Like most routine dental procedures there may be some soreness after but ultimately once this pain subsides, you will feel relief from the infection and be able to enjoy your day-to-day life without the pain you previously felt from the infection.
How do we address root canals?
When a tooth becomes infected it is usually related to the nerves in the root of the tooth. The infected nerves need to be removed. If left untreated an infection can turn into an abscess, which is a much more serious problem that includes bone loss in the jaw.
The area around the tooth is numbed with a local anesthetic to start the procedure. The dentist will then drill down into the tooth to create an opening into the canal. They will then be able to remove infected tissue and clean the canal. After the infection has been removed, the space if filled with a sealant called gutta percha. It is highly recommended that a tooth that has undergone a root canal is fitted with a crown. This will improve the appearance of the tooth, and will also make it much more likely that the root canal is successful.
“Root canal” has become a scary term for dental patients to hear, but the benefits of the procedure and advances in dental technology have made it much less “scary”. Local anesthetics and proper pain medication allow the procedure to be performed with little to no pain in most cases. There may be some soreness following the procedure, but that is normal for most dental procedures. Over the counter painkillers are usually enough to relieve any pain afterwards, but your dentist may prescribe medication.
An apicoectomy is performed after an unsuccessful root canal. When an infection will not go away or returns after a root canal has been performed this procedure is usually necessary. During an apicoectomy, the tip of the root of the tooth is removed and replaced with a filling. Inflamed tissue will be removed to clean out the area. The surgery takes place in a very small area, and only a few millimeters are removed from the root. After the root is removed a filling is placed and the gums are sutured. Depending on the type of sutures you may have to return in a few days to have them removed, or dissolving sutures may be used instead. Over the course of the next few months the bone will heal around the root.
With proper care, most teeth that have had endodontic (root canal) treatment can last as long as other natural teeth. Root canals performed by endodontists (root canal specialists) have a 95% success rate. In some cases, however, a tooth that has received endodontic treatment fails to heal. Occasionally, the tooth becomes painful or diseased months or even years after successful treatment.
As occasionally happens with any dental or medical procedure, a tooth may not heal as expected after initial treatment for a variety of reasons:
- Narrow or curved canals were not treated during the initial procedure.
- Complicated canal anatomy went undetected in the first procedure.
- The placement of the crown or other restoration was delayed following the endodontic treatment.
- The restoration did not prevent salivary contamination to the inside of the tooth.
- In other cases, a new problem can jeopardize a tooth that was successfully treated.
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