Patient Education

Endodontic Treatments:

Non-Surgical Root Canal Therapy

Not what it used to be!

article-4Because nothing is quite as good as your natural teeth, it pays to take good care of them. But there are effective treatments available to restore health to damaged or diseased teeth.

Root canal therapy is usually the necessary treatment option in order to salvage a damaged or diseased tooth. In years past, “root canal” was all too often associated with the words “discomfort” and “pain!” Today, most patients report that the root canal procedure is comparable to having a cavity filled. While the tooth may feel sensitive the first few days after treatment, any discomfort can be relieved with over-the-counter or prescription medications.

Leading up to your endodontic treatment, you may have experienced some pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, discoloration of the tooth, or tenderness and swelling in the nearby gums. Or, you may have experienced no symptoms at all! Your symptoms are a result of the pulp inside your tooth becoming inflamed or infected. This inflammation or infection is, in turn, caused by deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, a crack or chip in the tooth, or a physical blow to the tooth.

While all dentists receive some academic training in endodontics, general dentists often refer their root canal patients to endodontists dentists who specialize in treating the soft inner tissue of the tooth’s roots. Your endodontist can put a stop to your pain and discomfort! The first thing he or she will do is to remove the inflamed or infected pulp, carefully cleaning and shaping the insides of the tooth. Next this area is filled and sealed with a permanent build-up. Your general dentist can then place a crown or other restoration on the tooth to protect it and restore it to normal function.

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Don’t lose hope…that tooth can still be saved!

Teeth that have undergone endodontic (root canal) treatment often last as long as other natural teeth. But occasionally complete healing doesn’t occur due to new decay, a broken or cracked crown, or canals that weren’t detected during the initial root canal.

Teeth in these circumstances can still be saved. Your dentist may refer you to an endodontist a dentist who specializes in treating the soft inner tissue of the tooth’s roots. Your endodontist will begin a process called retreatment. First, the restoration or crown and the filling materials inside of your tooth will be removed. Next, your endodontist will clean the canals and closely examine the inside of your tooth to determine what caused the first treatment to fail. The area is then filled and sealed. Your general dentist can then place a crown or other restoration on the tooth to protect it and restore it to normal function.

Endodontic Surgery

More help is on the way!

Endodontic surgery may be required if endodontic treatment alone can’t save your tooth. Because endodontic surgery is often more challenging than routine treatment, your general dentist may refer you to an endodontist a dentist who specializes in treating the soft inner tissue of the tooth’s roots.

Your endodontist can perform surgical procedures to remove infection from your root canals and surrounding areas. Surgery can also diagnose problems that don’t appear on x-rays (such as root fractures) and can be used to treat problems in the surrounding bone. Your endodontist has a number of sedation methods that can be used to maximize your comfort including local anesthesia, oral sedation, IV sedation, and nitrous oxide (laughing gas). You and your endodontist can discuss your sedation needs and options.

An apicoectomy is the most common endodontic surgical procedure. This procedure removes infection or inflammation from the bony area around the end of your tooth. First, the endodontist reflects the gum tissue near the tooth to examine the underlying bone. Next, any inflamed or infected tissue will be removed along with the very end of the root. A small filling can then be placed in the root end to seal the root canal. Within a few months, the bone will heal around the end of the root.

Cracked Teeth

Not something to ignore!

A cracked tooth is a condition involving damage to the hard outer surface of a tooth. Often, the soft, underlying tissue called the pulp is also damaged. Symptoms include inconsistent pain, often while chewing, and sensitivity to hot or cold foods. A cracked tooth is often the result of chewing hard objects such as ice or popcorn kernels, or clenching or grinding teeth.

If you have a cracked tooth, prompt treatment is recommended to prevent further damage. This condition will worsen over time and can lead to complete loss of the tooth. If you are diagnosed as having a cracked tooth, your dentist may refer you to an endodontist a dentist who specializes in treating the soft inner tissue of the tooth’s roots.

There is a range of treatments depending upon the severity of the condition. Unlike a broken bone, a cracked tooth will never mend. Therefore, it is important to support and protect the tooth with a full coverage crown after root canal treatment is completed. But your endodontist can stop the pain and prevent further damage. If your dentist refers you to an endodontist, rest assured you are in good hands.