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Endodontics and Root Canals

Of all the endodontic procedures, root canals are by far the most common procedure. By definition, endodontics treats problems related to the soft inner pulp of a tooth. Root canal treatment is required when nerve tissue inside the teeth degenerates and causes an infection. Without root canal treatment, the infection in the tooth pulp can result in an abscess, which in turn can cause damage to the jawbone and gum tissues. You will need a root canal to save your tooth and to ensure that the tissue around the root of the tooth remains healthy and free from inflammation.

There are many causes are of tooth inflammation or infection. Some may include:

Tooth trauma from accident or injury
Severe decay
Large fillings or cracked fillings
Fractured teeth
Oversaturation of dental work in one area of the mouth
A chipped tooth that goes untreated

How do I know I need a root canal?

The most tell-tale sign is constant lingering or throbbing pain in the tooth or jaw, or the gums around the tooth are swollen or tender. Also look for discoloration in the tooth if it becomes extra sensitive to hot or cold.  Dr. K will examine you to see if there is infected pulp inside the tooth and may recommend a root canal procedure.

The pain patients experience is caused from infection and inflammation in and around the tooth. When the nerve inside the tooth pulp dies nutrients and moisture no longer are able to reach the tooth dentin and enamel. The biggest risk of not treating the damaged pulp, is the infection can get into the bones around the teeth causing you to potentially lose the tooth and impact the integrity of the jawbone. A root canal is your best option to preserve your natural tooth and keep your jaw healthy and free of pain.

How is a root canal performed?

A root canal is a multi-step procedure. First, Dr. K will review the x-ray of the infected tooth and then administer a local anesthetic to allow for a pain-free experience. Then, going through an opening in the crown of the tooth, she will remove the inflamed nerve tissue and clean the root canal thoroughly. This will ensure that infection and tissue swelling does not happen again.

The second step of the root canal procedure, requires the sealing of the cleaned root canal cavity.  The root canal is filled with a plant based material called gutta-percha and a sealer.  This is done to prevent fluids and bacteria from entering the cavity.  

Finally, a crown is placed on the sealed tooth allowing the tooth to function normally and you to resume normal activity without pain.

Common Risk Factors for a Root Canal

It is common to have slight discomfort after the procedure. This is part of your body’s natural healing process. To alleviate the discomfort you can generally take an over the counter pain medication. In more extreme cases, Dr. Kleidosty may prescribe an antibiotic and prescription-strength pain reliever to help reduce any remaining infection.

Do not chew directly on the repaired tooth until your final crown has been placed. Doing so may cause the tooth to crack. It is highly advisable that you complete the full root canal as quickly as possible to avoid complications. Dr. K and you will work on a schedule and treatment plan to avoid any relapses as the procedure progresses.

In the event that root canal therapy is unsuccessful, the dentist can discuss alternative options including repeating the treatment or extracting the infected tooth and replacing it with options such as implants.