A root canal is a treatment of the pulp of the tooth that is inflamed, infected, or dead. The dental pulp is a soft substance in the cent of the tooth that consists of the nerve, blood vessels, and connective tissue.
The pulp chamber is the hollow part in the center of the tooth that contains the pulp, and it continues down canals that extend through the roots of teeth and into the surrounding bone. Some roots have more than one root canal, and all have at least one canal.
Root Canal treatment is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes: deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or a crack or chip in the tooth.
In addition, an injury to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.
Signs to look for include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, tenderness to touch and chewing, discoloration of the tooth, and swelling, drainage and tenderness in the lymph nodes as well as nearby bone and gum tissues.
Sometimes, however, there are no symptoms.
If you think you have a tooth that may require a root canal, please call our office to schedule a consult .
Root canal treatment can often be performed in one or two visits lasting about an hour each 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, 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 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 den_st to have a crown or other restoration placed on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function.
Once a tooth has been root canal treated, the tooth has lost its blood supply. This causes the tooth to become brittle and very susceptible to breaking.
In most cases a crown is the recommended restoration to protect the tooth once the root canal is completed.
This is usually the case with all posterior teeth following a root canal because it is the posterior teeth that carry most of the forces from chewing. Therefore, a full coverage restoration is required to prevent possible fractures from occurring.
In some cases, usually only in anterior teeth, only a simple filling is needed to seal the access hole that was created by the endodontist to do the procedure.
If the tooth has an existing crown, and the crown is still structurally sound, then this is another instance where only a filling is required to close the access.
Typically there is no down time needed after a root canal procedure.
Some tenderness in the area is normal and to be expected for two-three days following treatment.
However, there should no longer be any sensitivity to hot or cold foods and liquids.
If infection was present, your den_st or the endodontist may place you on an antibiotic before or after the procedure.
Swelling following a root canal is likely to be minimal to non-existent and is more likely caused by infection present rather than the procedure itself.
Specific costs for the procedure will be discussed with you at the endodontist’s office. MOST insurance plans cover root canals in a range from 50-80%. It is up to you to know your specific plan benefits.
Once the need for a root canal has been determined here at our office, you would be referred to one of our trusted partners, an endodontic specialist, for treatment.
Once the procedure has been completed you will return to our office for restorative treatment.