Root Canal Treatment Information
What is an Endodontist and what do they do?
Endodontists are dentists who specialize in maintaining teeth through endodontic therapy- procedures, involving the soft inner tissue of the teeth, called the pulp. The word “endodontic” comes from “endo” meaning inside and “odont” meaning tooth. Like many medical terms, it’s Greek. All dentists are trained in diagnosis and endodontic therapy, however, some teeth can be especially difficult to diagnose and treat. That’s why you may have been referred to an endodontic specialist. In addition to dental school, endodontists receive two or more years of advanced education in this kind of treatment. They study root canal techniques and procedures in greater depth, for diagnosis and treatment of more difficult cases. For this reason, many dentists choose to refer their patients to endodontists.
What is Root Canal Therapy?
Root canal treatment is one of the most common procedures performed in dentistry. This treatment can save your natural tooth and prevent the need for dental implants or bridges. A local anesthetic will be given. A sheet of latex called the “rubber dam” (we’ve got non-latex ones too) will be placed around the tooth to isolate it, hence keeping it clean and dry during treatment. The treatment consists of three or four basic steps, but the number of visits will depend on your particular case. Some treatments take 2 visits but many are just a single visit. Occasionally 3 appointments are needed. In any case, it depends on the degree of infection/inflammation and degree of treatment difficulty. It’s more important to do it the very best we can than to meet a specific time criteria. There are, of course, no guarantees in medicine or dentistry. Root canal or endodontic therapy has a very high degree of success. We will discuss with you the chances of success before any endodontic procedure to help you make an informed decision. If a root canal or endodontic therapy is unsuccessful or fails, you still have options.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Pain
Oral discomfort, sensitivity or pain, such as toothaches can often be difficult to pinpoint. Because of the vast network of nerves in the mouth, the pain of a damaged or diseased tooth often is felt in another tooth and/or in the head, neck, or ear. An endodontist is a specialist in diagnosing and treating this type of pain.
Treatment of Traumatic Injury
Pulp damage is sometimes caused by a blow to the mouth, and the endodontist specializes in treating these traumatic injuries. For example, a blow to a child’s permanent tooth that is not fully developed can cause the root to stop growing. There are procedures that can help stimulate root end closure and bone deposition, which makes it possible to then save the tooth through a root canal procedure. An endodontist is specially trained in procedures for replanting teeth that have been knocked out of their sockets.
Occasionally a tooth that has undergone endodontic, treatment fails to heal or pain continues despite therapy. Although rare, sometimes a tooth initially responds to root canal therapy but becomes painful or diseased months or years later. When either of these situations occur, the tooth often can be maintained with a second endodontic treatment.
It is rare, but sometimes an infection is resistant to healing after root canal therapy and requires a surgical procedure to remove the inflamed and infected tissue at the tip of the root. Endodontists are the experts in this type of surgery using the dental operating microscopes, microinstruments, and advanced materials to conservatively treat these teeth.
Will I need to return to your office for Additional Visits?
Once endodontic therapy is completed, your tooth may need to be examined periodically, usually every 6-12 months. This allows us to make sure the tooth has healed or is properly healing. Since an abscess may take 2 years to heal, our office will re-evaluate the tooth for at least 2 years.
What happens after treatment?
When your root canal therapy has been completed, a record of your treatment will be sent to your dentist. You should contact your dentist’s office for a follow-up appointment within a few weeks of your root canal treatment completion as a permanent restoration on the tooth may be required. Your dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth.
Will the treatment be painful?
We will take every measure to ensure that your procedure is in no way uncomfortable or painful. If treatment is needed, we will inject a small amount of anesthesia to gently numb a concentrated area of your mouth. For most patients, the feeling of numbness usually subsides after 2-3 hours.
Will I need to return to your office for follow-ups after the procedure is finished?
Yes, for some root canal treatments, we recommend that our patients return to our office 6 months to 1 year after the procedure is finished for a recall. Our office will call you to set an appointment when the recall date is due.