What is a root canal?
A Root Canal is the removal of the inflamed, dying, or dead nerve tissue
in the root of a tooth. A root canal is one of the most common dental
procedures performed. This easy yet complex treatment can save your
natural tooth and prevent the need for dental implants, bridges, or
dentures. At the center of your tooth is the pulp. The pulp is a
collection of blood vessels, connective tissue and nerves that helps to
build the surrounding tooth when you are a child. Infection of the pulp
can be caused by trauma to the tooth, deep decay, cracks, micro fractures,
chips, or repeated dental procedures. Symptoms of damage can be identified
as visible injury to the tooth, swelling, pain to hot and or cold, pain on
biting or tapping and spontaneous facial pain.
How is a root canal performed?
If you experience any of these symptoms, your dentist will most likely
recommend a root canal to eliminate the diseased pulp. The injured pulp is
removed and the root canal system is thoroughly cleaned and sealed. It
involves the cleaning, shaping and tapering of the inside of the root,
followed by the 3-dimensional sealing of the root with a plastic filling
material (gutta percha). This therapy usually involves local anesthesia
and may be completed in one or two visits depending on the treatment
required. Success for this type of treatment occurs in about 92 to 95% 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 if a complication occurs during or after the treatment.
Local anesthesia is used to eliminate discomfort. You will be able to
drive home after your treatment, and you should be comfortable returning
to your normal routine or work schedule.
What happens after treatment?
When your root canal therapy has been completed, a report of your
treatment will be sent to your regular dentist. You should contact their
office for a follow-up appointment within two weeks of the root canal
being completed at our office. Your regular dentist will decide with you
as to what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth. It is
rare for endodontic patients to experience severe complications after
routine endodontic treatment, but If a problem does occur we are available
by calling the office or our answering service. Some soreness, a low grade
aching and a medicine taste between visits is normal. If you experience
severe pain and or significant swelling you should contact the office.
How much will it cost?
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.
BEFORE ENDODONTIC TREATMENT
canal work will be performed using local anesthesia. There are usually no
restrictions after the procedure concerning driving or returning to work.
Most patients go back to work and go about their business as after a
routine visit to their general dentist.
Continue all medications for blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid problems
and any other conditions as recommended by your physician. If there is a
question, please call our office prior to your appointment.
Please eat a normal breakfast or lunch as applicable.
If you have been advised by your physician or dentist to use antibiotic
pre-medication because of mitral valve prolapse (MVP), heart murmur, hip,
knee, cardiac or other prosthesis, or if you have rheumatic heart disease,
please make sure you are on the appropriate antibiotic on the day of your
appointment. If there is a question, please call our office prior to your
If you normally take ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen sodium (Aleve), it does
help reduce inflammation when taken before a visit. Feel free to take 1 or
2 tablets of either medication 2-4 hours before endodontic therapy.
AFTER ENDODONTIC TREATMENT
Once Endodontic treatment has been completed,
the root canal system has been permanently sealed. However, the
outer surface of your tooth has been sealed with a temporary
restoration. A follow-up restoration must be placed to protect your
tooth against fracture and decay. Please telephone your general
dentist for an appointment. A complete report of treatment will be
sent to your restorative dentist. Included in your treatment is any
additional follow-up visits that may be needed to evaluate the
progress of healing.
Your initial appointment will consist
of a consultation explaining your diagnosis and treatment options. Usually
root canal therapy can be started at this first visit. However, a complex
medical history or treatment plan will require an evaluation and a second
appointment to provide treatment on another day.
Please assist us by providing the following information at the time of
* Your root canal referral slip and any X-rays if applicable
* A list of medications you are presently taking
* If you have medical or dental insurance, bring the necessary completed
forms. This will save time and allow us to help you process any claims.
IMPORTANT: All patients under the age of 18 years of age must be
accompanied by a parent or guardian at the first visit.
DISCOMFORT MANAGEMENT AFTER
Your tooth and surrounding gum tissue may be
slightly tender or sore for several days as a result of the
manipulation during your treatment and the previous condition of
your tooth. This tenderness is normal and is no cause for alarm.
Do not chew food on the affected side until your endodontic therapy
is completed and your tooth is covered with a protective restoration
provided by your restorative dentist. Please continue to brush and
floss as usual unless directed or told otherwise at your visit.
If your dentist or physician has
taken x-rays, you may request that they forward them to our office. If
there is not enough time, please pick them up and bring them to our
office. If additional films are necessary, they can be taken at our
facility. While x-rays provided by your general dentist may be sufficient
to diagnose your condition new x-rays may be needed to properly treat your
With the appropriate care, your teeth
that have had endodontic treatment will last as long as other natural
teeth. Yet, a tooth that has received treatment may on occasion fail to
heal or pain might continue. Rarely pain may reoccur months or years after
treatment. If so, Endodontic Re-treatment may be needed.
Improper healing may be caused by:
* Curved or narrow canals that were unable to be treated properly during
the initial treatment.
* Complicated or accessory canals that went undetected during the initial
* The crown or restoration was not placed within the appropriate amount of
time following the procedure.
* The crown or restoration did not prevent saliva or bacteria from
contaminating the inside of the tooth.
* Or simply that the body was unable to heal the abscess or infection
In some cases, new problems can influence a tooth that was successfully
* New decay can expose a root canal filling material, causing infection.
* A cracked or loose filling or crown can expose the tooth to new
* A new crack in the crown or root can expose the tooth to a new
Once re-treatment has been selected as a solution to your problem, the
doctor will reopen your tooth to gain access to the root canal filling
material. This restorative material will be removed to enable access to
the root canal system. The doctors will now clean your canals and
carefully examine the inside of the problematic tooth. Once cleaned, the
doctors will fill and seal the canals and place a temporary filling in the
At this point, you will need to return to your dentist as soon as possible
in order to have a new crown or restoration placed on the tooth to restore
full functionality and facilitate proper healing.