Root canal therapy or endodontic treatment can often be performed in one or two visits. At our practice, we examine and radiograph the infected tooth. A local anesthetic is administered and after the tooth is profoundly numb a protective sheet is put over the area to isolate saliva from the tooth during the procedure. An opening in the crown or top of the tooth is made in order to clean out the infection found in the pulp chamber and root canals of the lower half of the tooth.
After the space is cleaned the root canals are filled with biocompatible material. A gutta percha is placed with an adhesive cement to ensure complete sealing of the root canal. In most cases, a temporary filling is placed to close the opening.
The patient will eventually have a crown or other restoration placed on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function. If the tooth lacks sufficient structure a post may be put inside for restoration.
To understand a root canal procedure, it helps to know about the anatomy of the tooth. Inside the tooth, under the white enamel and a hard layer called the dentin, is a soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue, and helps to grow the root of your tooth during development. In a fully developed tooth, the tooth can survive without the pulp because the tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it.
Endodontic treatment treats the inside of the tooth. Endodontic 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, faulty crowns, or a crack or chip in the tooth. In addition, trauma 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.
How does endodontic treatment save the tooth?
During root canal treatment, the inflamed or infected pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected, then filled and sealed with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. Afterwards, the tooth is restored with a crown or filling for protection. After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth.
Contrary to jokes about the matter, modern root canal treatment is very similar to having a routine filling and usually can be completed in one or two appointments, depending on the condition of your tooth and your personal circumstances. You can expect a comfortable experience during and after your appointment.
Saving the natural tooth with root canal treatment has many advantages:
- Efficient chewing
- Normal biting force and sensation
- Natural appearance
- Protects other teeth from excessive wear or strain
Endodontic treatment helps you maintain your natural smile, continue eating the foods you love and limits the need for ongoing dental work. With proper care, most teeth that have had root canal treatment can last as long as other natural teeth and often for a lifetime.
Pre op instructions:
Take all medications as recommended by your physician the day of your appointment. This procedure is performed under local anesthesia. There are usually no restrictions after the procedure concerning driving or returning to work. Over the counter Ibuprofen (Advil) does help reduce inflammation when taken pre operatively. We recommend taking 3 tablets of Ibuprofen (Advil) 600mg 2-4 hrs before endodontic therapy. If you can not take Ibuprofen you may take 2 Tylenol (1000mg).
Post op Instructions:
Following root canal therapy, there may be some soreness in the area of the treated tooth for the following few days. This is due to a healing response at the root ends and the injection sites and is normal. We recommend that you take 600mg of Ibuprofen (3 Advil or Motrin tablets) every 6 hours after the procedure and thereafter for three days as necessary for pain. If you cannot take Ibuprofen, Advil, or Motrin due to an allergy, stomach ulcer, or as per your physician’s advice, you may take 1000mg Acetaminophen (two extra strength Tylenols) every 6 hours.
Depending on the condition of the tooth prior to the root canal, the healing phase may be swift or lengthy. Please be patient with this process as it can take up to several days to a few weeks for proper resolution of symptoms. Most often, any remaining symptoms from the tooth will resolve in time. Do not chew on this tooth until we complete the fmal restoration. Your tooth may feel sensitive to chewing pressure for several weeks after root canal treatment is finished. You may also feel some tenderness in your jaw and jaw muscles from keeping it open for an extended period of time. Generally, the tooth should be back to normal within a month after the completion of the treatment. Narcotics, if prescribed, may make you drowsy and caution should be exercised when operating dangerous machinery and motor vehicles.
A temporary filling may be placed in the root canal treated tooth. It is common for a thin layer to wear off between appointments, however if the entire filling falls out at any time, call us immediately. Following root canal therapy, a final restoration has to be placed on the treated tooth. Failure to do so in a timely fashion will result into failure of the root canal or a possible root fracture resulting in tooth loss.