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ROOT CANAL is a lay persons’ term for endodontic therapy or root canal therapy. Root canal therapy is necessary when the pulp (aka “nerve”) inside the tooth becomes irreversibly damaged or infected. This irreversible damage is a result of combined injuries that occur over the life of the tooth (decay, trauma, a crack or chip in the tooth, multiple restorations). Root canal therapy is the removal of the entire pulp throughout the root canal system (a tooth can have several roots and a canal or two within those roots), the cleaning and shaping of the canal system, and filling the canals with a polyester synthetic root canal filling and a dental sealer. In addition, trauma to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.

Afterward, the tooth is restored with a crown or filling for protection. After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth.

FAQ

Do you have any of the following symptoms?

  • Sensitivity to hot or cold that lingers
  • Discomfort when chewing or biting
  • Dull ache or severe pain
  • Discomfort that wakes you up at night
  • Your dentist has diagnosed the need for endodontic treatment either by clinical exam or x-ray

If you answered yes to any of the above, you might very well need a root canal. Please call and schedule for an evaluation.

Be aware not all teeth that are in need of root canal therapy will cause pain. It is possible to be pain-free and still need a root canal.

With modern techniques and varied local anesthetic solutions it is rare to have any sensation in the tooth during treatment. For the first few days after treatment, it is normal for your tooth to be sensitive to biting. This discomfort can be relieved with over-the-counter or prescription medications in order to control normal post-treatment discomfort. Today, getting root canal treatment is often no more uncomfortable than having a filling. In fact, root canal treatment doesn’t cause pain but actually relieves it. Advances have made the treatment a virtually pain-free experience, many times accomplished in a single visit.

In most cases the discomfort will subside dramatically within the first 24-48 hours. Any sensitivity to cold, hot or even breathing air “in” will be gone after your visit. Nevertheless, you may experience mild discomfort to pressure that could last for several days after treatment. Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory analgesics usually relieves this discomfort. The most common complaint is tenderness to touch, bite, tapping or chewing on the tooth. It is always best to chew on the other side until a permanent restoration replaces the temporary restoration.

Some patients may experience tooth pain initially and then it goes away on its own or with the help of antibiotics. Just because it has stopped hurting doesn’t mean it is no longer infected. Root canal treatment is designed to disinfect the inside of the tooth (the source of infection) and stop the spread of infection.

Some patients may never experience pain with an infected tooth. In fact, root canal infection is often discovered through routine radiographs and/or clinical examination. The tooth may have a chronic infection that the body has accommodated enough to not have gone beyond the patient’s pain threshold.

The single most important benefit of root canal therapy is that you keep your tooth. Extraction may lead to other dental problems. For instance, drifting of teeth, bite problems, TMJ discomfort, and the need to treat adjacent teeth that do not otherwise need dental treatment in order to restore the missing tooth. No matter how effective modern tooth replacements are – and they can be very effective – nothing is a good as Saving your natural teeth, if possible, is the very best option. Nothing can completely replace your natural tooth. An artificial tooth can sometimes cause you to avoid certain foods. Keeping your own teeth is important so that you can continue to enjoy the wide variety of foods necessary to maintain the proper nutrient balance in your diet. If your dentist recommends extraction, ask whether root canal treatment is an option.

It may depend on infection in tooth and procedure involved. Treatment of severely infected tooth takes approximately 3-4 visits. And a less infectious tooth with latest modern technology can be treated in a single visit.

Saving your tooth through endodontic treatment is less expensive and less invasive than an extraction and replacement with a bridge or implant.