Root Canal Treatment
Root canal treatment is among the most feared and misunderstood of all dental procedures. The specialty of endodontics has made great advancements in research and technology to ensure that root canals are not as they used to be. In fact, in the hands of our skilled endodontists, the vast majority of root canals are now painless. This elegant procedure can save your natural teeth and allow you to smile and eat your favorite foods for years. Root canal treatment is one of the most common procedures in dentistry and our office performs over 1,000 root canals each year.
Your tooth consists of two main parts; the part of the tooth you can see in the mouth is called the crown, and the part of the tooth that is under the gums and in the bone are the roots. Just like bones have bone marrow, roots also have a “marrow-like” portion known as the root canal. Within the root canal lie nerves, blood vessels, and other soft tissue, which together comprise the pulp. The pulp helps to build and nourish the surrounding tooth.
If the pulp becomes inflamed, infected, or dies, it can become painful and an abscess can form. At this point, endodontic treatment is needed. An endodontic or root canal treatment is a procedure where diseased pulp tissue is removed and replaced with a special filling. In our office, this procedure is done using the latest technology such as a high-powered microscope, ultrasonics, the latest imaging, sophisticated materials, and other innovative technology assuring the tooth is thoroughly cleaned and filled properly.
During a root canal treatment, a person is “numbed” as though they were going to get a filling, the unhealthy pulp is removed, and the root canal system is thoroughly cleaned, filled, and sealed. Root canal procedures may be completed in one or more visits.
While there are many reasons that the pulp inside a tooth can become unhealthy, the most common reasons for inflammation and infection are bacteria associated with cavities, repeated dental procedures, fractures, cracks, and trauma. Symptoms of inflammation or infection can be identified as visible injury, swelling, hot/cold sensitivity, discomfort while chewing, pain in the tooth, gums, or jaw. If you experience any of these symptoms, your dentist will likely recommend nonsurgical treatment to remove the diseased pulp.
Among the nonsurgical and other services performed at Valley Endodontics, root canal treatment results in exceptionally favorable success rates averaging above 99%.
Root Canal Retreatment
Although rare, a tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment may resist healing, or more commonly, become reinfected. Sometimes, a tooth initially responds to root canal therapy but becomes painful and abscessed months or even years later. When either of these situations occurs, the tooth can often be saved with a second endodontic treatment known as retreatment. Root canal retreatments are one of our most common procedures. At Valley Endodontics, our highly trained doctors use high- powered microscopes, ultrasonics, bioceramics and other innovative methods to make root canal retreatments a highly successful, painless, and even comfortable experience.
Despite the fact that the nerves were removed from the tooth during the first root canal treatment, a patient may feel pain or pressure in their root canal-treated tooth. This is because the existing root canal filling material has been contaminated, causing inflammation, infection, and in some cases an abscess. The previously root canal- treated tooth becomes painful because the surrounding bone is still alive and has nerves that respond to the bacteria inside and around the diseased tooth.
During a root canal retreatment, a person is “numbed,”, the contaminated root canal filling material is carefully removed using a high-powered microscope, and the root canal system is thoroughly cleaned. Although each case varies, the tooth is often medicated and then sealed temporarily. At a later visit, the tooth is re-accessed, the canals in the roots are filled, and the tooth is resealed.
Symptoms after initial root canal treatment is typically caused by bacterial contamination of the canal space. This may occur for a number of reasons. The most common are cavities, the presence of new bacteria and contamination of the inside of the tooth due to wear of the tooth’s crown or filling. Symptoms include discomfort, especially while chewing, and pain or pressure in the tooth or jaw. If you experience symptoms on a previously treated tooth, your dentist may recommend a root canal retreatment.
At Valley Endodontics, we understand that tooth pain can be severe and even debilitating. Our team goes above and beyond to accommodate emergencies so we can provide you with urgent relief. Please note, endodontic procedures typically require 1 - 2 hours. Although we try our best to see all emergency patients, same-day visits are not guaranteed and therefore it is preferred that appointments are made in advance.
Trauma to the teeth such as knocking them out or displacing them can be a very frightening situation. Successfully saving traumatized teeth is often time-sensitive. If you have suffered tooth trauma, such as displacement or loss of a tooth, please contact us immediately.
Helpful Tip: If your tooth has been knocked out, do NOT touch the root or attempt to clean it. We recommend picking the tooth up by the crown (the part you normally see in the mouth and brush with a toothbrush) and placing the tooth in a clean cup of milk (make sure it’s animal milk such as cow’s milk and not plant-based such as soy or almond milk). If you are unable to do that, place the tooth in a cup of saliva and make sure enough saliva is present to fully cover the tooth. Successful re-implantation depends on careful handling of the tooth and on how long the tooth has been out of the mouth.
Please call our office immediately if you have suffered a traumatic injury.
Although a cracked tooth may seem easily detectable, cracked roots can be less obvious. They often demonstrate many types of symptoms, including pain or discomfort when chewing, temperature sensitivity, or even pain upon the release of biting pressure. It is also common for tooth pain to come and go, making it difficult for dentists to diagnose the cause of discomfort. At Valley Endodontics, we use the most modern technology such as high- powered microscopes, transillumination, and temporary staining, along with very careful examination, to diagnose cracked teeth. Depending on the location, direction, and severity of the crack, the tooth may be saved with root canal treatment. If you believe you may have cracked a tooth, or have been told by your dentist that you may have a cracked tooth, please call our office for a consultation.
Apexogenesis & Apexification
When children lose their baby teeth, the permanent teeth come in. After the permanent teeth grow in, it takes approximately two years for the roots to finish developing. Teeth with immature roots in need of a root canal treatment may require an initial procedure to seal the tip of the root, called the apex, so that the root canal may be done safely. Apexogenesis refers to a procedure performed on an immature tooth that is at least partially alive to encourage natural development and formation of the apex. If the immature tooth is already dead, a procedure called apexification is utilized to induce a calcified barrier at the apex.
Resorption is the progressive loss of tooth structure on the root or crown of the tooth. It is similar to a cavity except instead of bacteria destroying the tooth, your body does the damage. This process is normal in baby teeth where the roots are removed by your body and the tooth falls out. This helps create space for erupting permanent teeth. In adult teeth, this process is unwelcomed. It may occur for many reasons, such as trauma, but in other instances the cause is unknown. Tooth resorption may go unnoticed for many years because it typically does not cause any symptoms. If the resorption is caught early enough and has destroyed only a small amount of tooth structure, the tooth may be saved with endodontic treatment. A consultation prior to treatment is advised to determine the extent of damage and possible success rate of treatment.
Occasionally, a single tooth will become discolored and can take on a grey or even orange appearance. Although rare, this can occur after trauma or after a root canal treatment is completed. Tooth discoloration commonly appears in a gradual but noticeable manner and is typically painless. intracoronal bleaching often successfully lightens a single tooth’s color and restores your smile to a uniform appearance. The procedure is usually painless but may require multiple visits depending on the severity of the staining. If you have an isolated tooth that is discolored and feel that intracoronal bleaching might be right for you, please call our office for a consultation.