Root Canal Therapy

Endodontic treatment, also known as root canal therapy, is one of the most common dental procedures performed. Fortunately, this simple treatment can save your natural teeth and prevent the need for dental implants or bridges due to tooth loss. In general, endodontic treatment is much less expensive than tooth removal and replacement with an artificial tooth.

Tooth Infection

Causes of an infected pulp could include:

  • Tooth Trauma
  • Decay on a tooth that is deep
  • A cracked tooth
  • A root fracture
  • Repeated dental procedures on a tooth

Inside and at the center of each tooth is the pulp, which is a collection of connective tissue, blood vessels, and nerves that provides nutrients to the tooth and spreads down through the root. When the pulp is diseased or injured, the nerve inside your tooth is no longer healthy and loses vitality.

Symptoms of the infection in and around the tooth can be identified as throbbing and pain, temperature sensitivity, pressure sensitivity, or swelling. In some instances, none of these symptoms are present, yet an infection is detected on a radiograph. The only way to save a tooth in which the nerve has become infected or abscessed is by treating it with root canal therapy.

A Cracked Tooth Can be Caused by:

  • Clenching or grinding your teeth
  • Chewing hard items such as popcorn kernels
  • an injury to your mouth

Tips to Help Prevent a Cracked Tooth Include:

  • Avoid chewing hard candy or ice
  • Wear a mouthguard when participating in sports
  • Use scissors, not your mouth, to remove clothing tags or to cut tape

Cracked Tooth

This is a crack that involves the chewing surface of the tooth. The crack may extend below the gum line and, in some cases, it is possible for the crack to extend further vertically into the root. Cracked teeth exhibit symptoms such as pain when chewing, temperature sensitivity, or pain upon the release of biting pressure. Chewing can cause movement of the cracked pieces of the tooth. At the same time, when biting pressure is released, the crack can close quickly, resulting in sharp pain. Damage to the pulp is commonplace and root canal therapy is usually required. A cracked tooth that is not treated will only worsen, eventually resulting in tooth loss.

What Is Root Canal Treatment?

A comprehensive examination to diagnose pulpal injury is necessary to determine if the tooth is a good candidate for endodontic therapy. A root canal treatment generally involves the removal and replacement of the diseased pulp of a tooth. It is a non-surgical treatment in which the infected pulp is removed and the root canal system is thoroughly cleaned and sealed. This therapy involves the use of local anesthesia and is normally completed in one or two visits depending on the pulpal infection. You will be able to drive home after your treatment and you will probably be comfortable returning to your normal routine.

Success Rates On Root Canal Treatment

Success for this type of treatment occurs in about 90% of cases. It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine endodontic treatment. If your tooth is not amenable to endodontic treatment or the chance of success is unfavorable, you will be informed at the time of consultation. Saving the tooth may not be possible if it is determined that the tooth has a fractured root.

What Does Treatment Involve?

The following procedures used to save a tooth include:

  • First, an opening is made through the top of the tooth that extends into the pulp chamber.
  • The pulp tissue is then removed and the root canals are cleaned and shaped to a form that can be filled. If necessary, medications may be placed directly in the pulp chamber and root canals to help treat infection.
  • A temporary filling will be placed in the access opening to protect the tooth between dental visits. Depending on the severity of the infection, you may also be given a prescription for an antibiotic medication.
  • At the next visit, the temporary filling is removed and the pulp chamber and the root canals are re-cleaned and sealed.

What Happens After Treatment?

Successful endodontic therapy is the initial procedure in order to save your tooth. Within a few weeks of completion of your therapy, our office will perform the appropriate restoration that is necessary to protect your tooth. This final restoration can range from a filling to a crown. A tooth that has undergone root canal therapy is now significantly weaker and, in most instances, a permanent crown must be placed over the tooth to protect it against fracturing and to provide optimal long-term stability. At this point, your tooth will once again be a fully functional part of your mouth and smile.

Your restored tooth could last a lifetime as long as you care for the tooth just as you would care for your other teeth. It is important to remember that an endodontically treated tooth without its nerve can still develop cavities or periodontal disease. You must remain diligent about brushing and flossing daily along with maintaining regular dental exams and cleanings.


Want to learn more about after care? Go to Home Care Instructions After Root Canal Therapy

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