Endodontists are root canal specialists that diagnose and treat disease and injuries that are specific to the dental nerves, pulp and tissues that affect the vitality of the teeth.
In the past, if you had a diseased tooth that a filling could not save, you would end up losing the tooth. Today, root canal therapy helps save teeth that do not need extractions due to nerve damage.
What is a root canal? A root canal is a treatment that saves a severely decayed and/or infected tooth. If left untreated, an abscess (pus-filled pocket at the end of the roots of the tooth) may form as bacteria multiply in the pulp chamber. During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp are removed, the inside of the canals are cleaned and then sealed. The absence of the nerve will not affect the function of the tooth.
What are the signs that a root canal is needed?
Some signs that you may need a root canal include:
• Severe toothache
• Prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold temperatures
• Pain upon touch or application of pressure
• Tenderness and/or swelling of the gums
• A persistent of recurring pimple on the gums
• Discoloration (darkening) of a tooth
Sometimes, teeth that require root canal therapy are not always painful. That is why it is important to keep up with your 6 month check up exams.
How many visits does a root canal take?
A root canal treatment requires approximately two office visits and is performed either by your dentist or in more complex cases, by the endodontist. For simple root canals, one visit will suffice. For not so simple cases, the tooth may be opened and medication will be placed if there is an infection. On the following visit, the interior of the tooth will be cleaned and a sealer paste along with a rubber compound called gutta percha will be used to seal the canals.
The final step after a root canal treatment may involve further restoration of the tooth. If your root canal was due to a large filling or extensive decay, a post and crown or another type of restoration needs to be placed to prevent further weakening, possible breakage and/or decay entering.
Your dentist or endodontist will discuss in full detail any additional work you may need.
Will I ever need to re-treat my tooth that has already has a root canal?
In most cases, teeth that have received root canal treatment can last for a very long time.
However, sometimes the tooth does not heal properly after a root canal, causing pain or an infection, months or years after your treatment. In such cases, or if the tooth has undergone new trauma, a re-treatment may still be able to save your tooth.
It is essential that you care for your teeth and gums with the proper oral hygiene and keep up with your checkups in order to monitor the success of your root canal.
Please contact our office to set up a consultation.