Root Canal treatment may have received a poor reputation in the past, but advancements in techniques, tools and materials have made root canal, or endodontic treatment, a modern and common procedure, as well as a much easier experience for patients.
Root canal treatment is a treatment option available to “save” a tooth that has sustained damage, inflammation, or infection in the pulp, deep inside the tooth. To learn more about the general anatomy of a tooth, click here.
The inflammation or infection in the pulp of the tooth may be caused by a variety of factors, including deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or cracks or chips in the tooth that have allowed food particles and bacteria to get inside. If left untreated, inflamed or infected pulp can lead to dental emergencies such as pain, abscess, or even loss of the tooth. Some people may not see or feel any symptoms. Others may notice pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, swelling, tooth discoloration, or even tenderness in the lymph nodes or the tissue surrounding the tooth.
Pain, swelling, tenderness in the lymph nodes or fever may be a sign of a true dental emergency or other serious condition and should never be ignored. If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms, we recommend you see a dental professional or visit an urgent care center right away.
Root canal treatment is now a modern and very common procedure and can often be performed by a 1st Family Dental doctor, right in our office. Occasionally, however, a referral to an endodontist, or root canal specialist, may be required in special cases.
Root canal procedures are often completed in two steps. First, the dentist will numb the area to be treated, and will remove the inflamed or infected pulp. Your dentist will then clean and shape the inside of the tooth, and fill the space and seal the tooth. Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to help heal the infection, and will often create a temporary crown or cap for the tooth. Your dentist will provide you with post procedure instructions, which include avoiding very hot or cold food or beverages, as well as chewy or hard foods or snacks for a period of time.
Second, after the infection has cleared and the area is healing, your dentist will clean and seal the tooth again and place a permanent crown over the tooth to protect it from further damage and decay. Once the healing is complete, you should be able to return to normal use of your teeth. However, it is important to remember that dental restorations need to be cared for and maintained regularly to make sure they are strong and intact.
Root canal treatment, as well as the permanent crown, can last for a long time with proper care and maintenance. That’s why it is very important to follow a great at home oral hygiene routine that includes brushing and flossing, and getting regular professional checkups and cleanings every 6 months.
Many times patients will feel a great amount of relief from swelling or pain following the first part of the root canal treatment has been completed. However, it is very important for patients to complete the entire root canal process including the placement of the permanent crown. Temporary crowns are not a permanent solution, and are designed to protect the tooth only until the permanent crown is completed by the dental laboratory.
The second step of the root canal is critical to allow your dentist to make sure the infection has cleared, to ensure the tooth is clean and sealed to prevent any openings which may allow food particles, debris or bacteria to enter the tooth and cause further damage. The placement and cementing of the permanent crown is the final step to help protect the tooth and prevent future damage or even tooth loss. Completing the root canal process fully is the best way to prevent future, more costly dental emergencies and keep your smile as healthy and strong as possible.