A root canal is one of the most common dental procedures performed, well over 14 million every year. This simple treatment can save your natural teeth and prevent the need of dental implants or bridges. At the center of your tooth is pulp. Pulp is a collection of blood vessels that helps to build the surrounding tooth. Infection of the pulp can be caused by trauma to the tooth, deep decay, cracks and chips, or repeated dental procedures. Symptoms of the infection can be identified as visible injury or swelling of the tooth, sensitivity to temperature or pain in the tooth and gums.
If you experience any of these symptoms, your dentist will most likely recommend non-surgical treatment to eliminate the diseased pulp. This injured pulp is removed and the root canal system is thoroughly cleaned and sealed. This therapy usually involves local anesthesia and may be completed in one or more visits depending on the treatment required. Success for this type of treatment occurs in over 90% of cases. If your tooth is not amenable to endodontic treatment or the chance of success is unfavorable, you will be informed at the time of consultation or when a complication becomes evident during or after treatment. We use local anesthesia to eliminate discomfort. In addition, we will provide nitrous oxide analgesia if indicated. You will be able to drive home after your treatment, and you probably will be comfortable returning to your normal routine.
When your root canal therapy has been completed, a record of your treatment will be sent to your restorative dentist. You should contact their office for a follow-up restoration within a few weeks of completion at our office. Your dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth.
The cost associated with this procedure can vary depending on factors such as: the severity of damage to the affected tooth, and which tooth is affected. In general, endodontic treatment is much less expensive than tooth removal and replacement with an artificial tooth.
The endodontist examines the tooth and x-ray films. Once the need for treatment is confirmed, local anesthetic is administered. After the tooth is fully anesthetized (numb), the endodontist places a small, protective sheet called a "dental dam" over the area to isolate the tooth and keep it clean and free of saliva during the procedure.
An opening will be made in the crown of the tooth. Very small instruments are used to clean the pulp from the pulp chamber and root canals and to shape the space for filling.
After the space is cleaned and shaped, the endodontist fills the root canals with a biocompatible material, usually a rubber-like material called "gutta-percha.” The gutta percha is placed with an adhesive cement to ensure complete sealing of the root canals. In most cases, a temporary filling is placed to close the access opening.
The temporary filling will be removed by your dentist prior to placing the final restoration. If the tooth lacks sufficient structure to hold the restoration in place, your dentist or endodontist may place a post inside the tooth. Ask your dentist or endodontist for more details about the specific restoration planned for your tooth.
After the final visit with your endodontist, you must return to your restorative dentist to have a crown or other restoration placed on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function.