Root Canal Therapy

Endodontic Procedure

Endodontic treatment can often be performed in one or two visits and involves the following steps:

The endodontist examines and x-rays the tooth, then administers local anesthetic. After the tooth is 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.

The endodontist makes an opening 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, usally a rubber-like substance 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 opening. The temporary filling will be removed by your dentist before the tooth is restored.

After the final visit with your endodontist, you must return to your dentist to have a crown or other restoration placed on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function.

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.

Copyright AAE 2002

What is a root canal?

A root canal (endodontic treatment) is one of the most common dental procedures performed, with more than 14 million performed every year. This simple treatment can save your natural teeth and prevent the need for dental implants or bridges.

At the center of your tooth is pulp. The pulp is a collection of blood vessels, nerves and lymphatics, which help to form the tooth during the stages of tooth development.

Infection of the pulp can be caused by:

  • trauma to the tooth
  • deep decay
  • cracks and chips
  • repeated dental procedures
  • fractures

Symptoms of the infection can be identified as:

  • Visible injury or swelling of the tooth
  • sensitivity to temperature
  • pain in the tooth and gums
  • referred pain

How is a root canal performed?

If you experience any of these symptoms, your dentist will most likely recommend root canal treatment to eliminate the diseased pulp. The injured pulp is removed and the root canal system is thoroughly cleaned and sealed. This therapy may be completed on one or more visits depending on the treatment required. Success for this type of treatment occurs in approximately 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 and will provide nitrous oxide anesthesia if necessary. You will be able to drive home after your treatment, and you probably will be comfortable returning to your normal routine.

What happens after treatment?

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 appointment within a few days after completion at our office. Your restorative dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth. It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine endodontic treatment or microsurgery. However, if a problem does occur, we are available to respond at all times. To prevent further decay, continue to practice good dental hygiene.

How much will it cost?

The cost associated with this procedure can vary depending on factors such as the severity of damage and which tooth is affected. In general, endodontic treatment is much less expensive than tooth removal and replacement with an artificial tooth.

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