Always keep your smile !

What is a Root Canal?

When a tooth’s pulp becomes exposed to severe decay, bacteria, deep fractures from trauma/grinding, etc., the tooth may begin to die and develop an infection (abscess).

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It might also become very painful. At this point, you only have two choices to treat the pain and infection. You can either remove your tooth or save it with a root canal treatment. A successful root canal treatment (also known as endodontic treatment) gives you the possibility to save your tooth rather than having it extracted. A root canal essentially is the removal of the damaged and infected tooth tissue from the tooth pulp chamber and roots. Your dentist will hollow out and clean the inner chambers and canals in the roots of the tooth. The dentist then fills the canals with a biocompatible material to prevent further infection.

root_canal_7Sometimes an antibiotic prescription is indicated prior to or concurrent with the treatment if the infection is causing severe pain and swelling. With routine check ups, your dentist will be able to avoid certain root canals for you by treating your cavities before they reach the tooth’s pulp and cause an infection.

  • Why should I do a root canal and save my tooth?

    If your dentist deems that your troubled tooth is worth saving then it most likely is the best choice of treatment. Even if you have a very bad infection or a very large cavity we strongly recommend saving your tooth. Keeping your tooth helps to prevent your other teeth from drifting out of line, and causing other jaw problems. Our jaw was designed in a brilliant way to help with chewing, speaking, stresses, etc. When teeth are removed, the jaw bone shrinks and other teeth will either drift down, up or sideways as the missing tooth’s “job” was to keep the adjacent teeth in place and to distribute balanced pressure on both sides of the jaw. When you lose even a single tooth, the remaining teeth will now receive more pressure and may be subject to future problems. Many people are concerned with saving only their front teeth. What is not emphasized is how important the back teeth are in terms of maintaining the front in a healthy state whether it is esthetic or functional. Also, saving a natural tooth avoids having to replace it with an artificial tooth/ implant which can be much more expensive.

    Root canals are sometimes also indicated as an elective procedure in situations where the tooth has lost a lot of tooth structure and the only way to restore it is by performing a root canal and then building up the core of the tooth with posts in the roots to help developed a better foundation for the final crown.

  • What happens to my tooth after it has a root canal?

    After a root canal treatment, your tooth has to be restored to look, feel and work as much like a natural tooth as possible. Your dentist may use a permanent filling or a crown to restore your tooth. The choice of restoration will depend on the amount of tooth that’s left. A back tooth will likely need a crown because chewing puts a great deal of force on back teeth. If there is not enough of the tooth left, posts may be used to help support the crown.

    The purpose of posts in a tooth act much the same way as posts in the ground that are placed to support the foundation of a building. The post supports the core of the tooth since much of the tooth structure has been undermined.

  • What are the risks associated with a root canal?

    Most root canal treatments are successful. But in some rare cases, a root canal treatment may fail even if the procedure was performed properly. A tooth’s roots are very similar to a tree. When we perform a root canal, we removed the main trunk of the canal, but like a tree the main trunk has many branches that branch out especially at the tip of the root and sometimes cannot be cleaned properly. In this instance, an infection may persist. To treat this problem, we either retreat the canals or perform a procedure called an apicoectomy. An apicoectomy is a surgical procedure whereby we access the tip of the root in order to remove a small portion and refill from the other end. When retreating a tooth, the previous root canal filling material is taken out, and the canal is recleaned, reshaped and refilled. Sometimes, if we cannot perform these procedures or if they are also unsuccessful, then unfortunately we have no choice but to remove the tooth.

  • What is the difference between front and back teeth root canals?

    It is important to note that not all teeth have the same number of roots. Back teeth usually have 3-4 roots, are more complicated to treat and require more appointments. Typically a root canal on a front tooth has one canal or root and requires only one visit, whereas a back tooth can take up to 2-3 visits.

    Please call us if you haven’t had a checkup for a while in order to verify that your teeth are healthy since if you do have cavities, they should be treated before the cavities grow and cause an infection.