What is Root Canal Treatment?
A root canal is one of the most common dental procedures performed, well over 14 million 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. Pulp is a collection of blood vessels that helps to build the surrounding tooth. Infection of the pulp can be caused by trauma to the tooth, deep decay, cracks and chips, or repeated dental procedures. Symptoms of the infection can be identified as visible injury or swelling of the tooth, sensitivity to temperature or pain in the tooth, and gums.
If you experience any of these symptoms, your dentist will most likely recommend non-surgical treatment to eliminate the diseased pulp. This injured pulp is removed and the root canal system is thoroughly cleaned and sealed. This therapy usually involves local anesthesia and may be completed in one or more visits depending on the treatment required. Success for this type of treatment occurs in about 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. You will be able to drive home after your treatment, and you probably will be comfortable returning to your normal routine.
Most teeth can be treated. Occasionally, a tooth can’t be saved because the root canals are not accessible, the root is severely fractured, the tooth doesn’t have adequate bone support, or the tooth cannot be restored. However, advances in endodontics are making it possible to save teeth that even a few years ago would have been lost. When non-surgical endodontic treatment is not effective, endodontic surgery may be able to save the tooth (see Apicoectomy Surgical Retreatment).
We recommend that you call your restorative dentist as soon as possible to make your follow-up appointment. Dentists' schedules tend to book quickly. It is recommended that you have your permanent restoration placed 2-3 weeks after your root canal treatment to allow healing to take place, but not longer than one month after the procedure. This step is imperative for the long-term prognosis of your tooth.
The temporary filling placed in the biting surface of your tooth is designed to last ideally two to four weeks, not longer than six to eight weeks. It is crucial to see your general dentist for a permanent restoration. Waiting longer than eight weeks can cause your temporary filling to leak, thus contaminating your newly completed root canal therapy.