Procedures

When you dentist recommends Endodontic treatment (root canal therapy) it is to save a tooth which would otherwise be extracted.  Endodontic treatment is used when the tooth pulp, inside of the tooth, becomes inflamed or infected.  Damaged tooth pulp can be painful and may lead to an abscess if let untreated.  Don’t panic!  Endodontic treatment is one of the most common dental procedures and can be performed with minimal or little discomfort.

To learn more about our services, please give us a call.  We will gladly discuss with you how our services can help you achieve healthy gums and teeth.

Endodontic Treatment

When the nerve of a tooth becomes affected by decay or infection, endodontic treatment (root canal therapy) may be required to restore the tooth.  The tooth may become extremely sensitive to both pressure and temperature and intense pain can be expected.  In the initial stages of decay and infection, it is possible that no symptoms would be present.  However, in the advanced stages of decay and infection and abscess (pimple-like inflammation on the gums) may form along with swelling.

When confronting this type of decay or infection, the patient has two options:  pull the affected tooth or save the tooth through endodontic treatment.  When extracting a decayed or infected tooth, significant and costly dental problems will arise for adjacent teeth.. In the end, tooth extraction may cause more problems than it will solve.  Endodontic treatment is a much more desirable alternative, as it will provide full functionality to the tooth and mouth, and will not cause any future problems with adjacent teeth.

The reasons a dentist will recommend endodontic treatment include the following:

  • Decay has reached the tooth pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth)
  • Development of infection or abscess inside the tooth or at the root tip
  • Trauma or injury to the tooth

The restoration that endodontic treatment provides can last a lifetime.  It will provide full functionality back to your tooth and mouth.  There may be  a need in the future to retreat the tooth, but this would only be necessary if a new, separate infection arose.

Procedure

Endodontic treatment will usually require one visit.  Sometimes a second visit will be necessary if there is extensive infection in the tooth.  Local anesthesia is used to number the tooth and the injured or infected pulp is removed, the root canal system is thoroughly cleaned and then sealed. You may experience some pressure and sensitivity for several days after your root canal. This is normal.  You will receive instructions regarding how to care for your tooth during the healing process.  You will be able to drive home after your treatment and you probably will be comfortable returning to your normal routine.

When your endodontic treatment is completed a report of your treatment will be sent to your dentist.  You should contact their office for a follow-up appointment within 7 – 10 days of completion at our office.  Your dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth.  It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications, however, if a problem does occur, we are available at all times to assist you.  To prevent any future infection and decay, good oral hygiene practices as well as regular dental visits will aid in the overall health of your mouth, and provide greater longevity in the life of your endodontic treatment.

Endodontic Retreatment

In some cases, once a root canal has been performed, the treatment will fail to heal the tooth completely or pain may occur.  If this occurs, Endodontic Retreatment may be necessary.  This can occur when there are curved or narrow canals, the final restoration was not placed within the appropriate amount of time, when the inside of the tooth is contaminated or when new decay or a crack exposed the tooth to new infection.

In such a case, we will reopen the tooth, remove the canal filling, clean the canals and examine the inside of the tooth.  Once your roots are completely clean, we will fill and seal the canals and place a temporary filling in the tooth.

You will need to return to your dentist as soon as possible to have a final restoration placed to protect you root and restore functionality.

If you have any questions about what we can do for you, please give us a call. We’re happy to answer any questions and help you understand anything you need to know about our services.

Apicoectomy

An apicoectomy, or root resection, is also known as endodontic microsurgery since the procedure is often performed with an operating microscope.  An apicoectomy may be needed if infection occurs or continues after root canal therapy is performed and re-treatment is either not possible or is unsuccessful.  Endodontic surgery is used to locate fractures or hidden canals that do not appear on x-rays but still cause pain in the tooth.  Damage to the surrounding bone may also be treated with this procedure.

An incision is made in the gum tissue to expose the bone and surrounding inflamed tissue.  The damaged tissue and/or infection is removed along with the tip of the root.  The root canal is cleaned and a filling is placed in the end of the root to prevent re-infection.  Sutures are place on the gum tissue.  Some discomfort and slight swelling are normal.  If you have increased pain or swelling, please call our office.

Treatment usually takes an hour to an our and a half.  Back teeth generally take longer than front teeth as they have multiple roots.

Click on the links below for explanations with illustrations from the American Association of Endodontists’ web site.