When a tooth’s pulp becomes inflamed or infected, you need a root canal or you will lose your tooth. Root canals are intended to allow you to extend the life of your natural tooth, maintaining your natural bite and healthy jaw function. In a root canal procedure, your endodontist removes the inflamed or infected pulp, cleans and shapes the canal system inside the tooth, and seals the space.
Will it hurt?
We’ve heard the jokes and the horror stories, and you probably have too. But as we like to say, “this isn’t your father’s root canal.” Because of our training and expertise, you typically won’t even feel as much discomfort as you would if you were having a cavity filled. Of course, the sooner you have your problem treated, the easier and more comfortable it can be. And here at Endodontic Specialists, our advanced techniques and equipment usually allow us to perform the entire procedure in about 45 minutes. Tomorrow, you may not even remember you were here.
More Facts on Root Canals
About 20 million root canals are performed each year, with a long-term success rate of over 90%. Root canal treatment, also called endodontic treatment, relieves pain and discomfort by removing the nerve tissue (or pulp) located in the center of the tooth and its root or roots (the root canal). Treatment involves drilling through the biting surface of the tooth to expose the pulp. The pulp tissue is removed with very fine metal files. Medication may be used to sterilize the interior of the tooth to prevent further infection.
Each empty root canal is filled with a rubber-like material and medicated cement. Occasionally, a metal post is also inserted into the canal to help strengthen the tooth and support a new crown. After root canal treatment, we close the opening in the tooth with a temporary filling. After your root canal treatment is complete you will need to return to your general dentist for a permanent filling to cover the root canal material. You may also need a crown on the tooth for strength and better resistance to leakage. Your dentist will discuss these options with you.
Twisted, curved or blocked root canals may prevent removal of all inflamed or infected pulp. Leaving any pulp in the root canal may cause your symptoms to worsen. If the pulp tissue can’t be removed, you may need an additional procedure called an apicoectomy. Through a small opening cut in the gum and bone, the root tip is removed and the root canal is sealed. An apicoectomy may also be required if your symptoms continue after treatment has been completed and your tooth does not heal.
Once the root canal treatment is completed, it is essential to return promptly to your dentist to have your tooth properly restored. Because a temporary filling is designed to last only a short time (about 4 to 6 weeks), failing to return to your dentist as directed to have the tooth sealed permanently with a crown can lead to the deterioration of the seal, resulting in decay, infection, gum disease and the possible premature loss of the tooth. Root fractures can also occur if you fail to have the tooth properly covered by your general dentist.
Root canal treatment is intended to allow you to keep your tooth for a longer period, which will help to maintain your natural bite and the healthy functioning of your jaws. Extracting your tooth is the most common alternative to root canal treatment. This alternative may require replacing the extracted tooth with a removable or fixed bridge or an artificial tooth called an implant.