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ROOT CANAL THERAPY (ENDODONTICS)
The pain that people often associate with root canals is usually the result of infection, not a result from the root canal treatment itself. Root canal therapy restores an infected tooth causing the associated pain to subside.The procedure allows a patient to preserve a severely damaged tooth. By the time you need root canal therapy, the tooth is already dead inside and the therapy cleans out the decay allowing you to keep your tooth for functional purposes. The field of dentistry devoted to root canal therapy is referred to as Endodontics. At Sheppard Village Dental, we have an Endodontist on our team who is specially trained in providing root canal treatment to our patients who may need it.
What is a “root canal”? The inside of a tooth is called the pulp. This is where nerves and blood supply nutrients to the tooth. If bacterial infection gets into the root canal system of the tooth, it begins to deteriorate the inside. Often when the body attempts to protect itself from the bacterial by-products of the infection, it causes inflammation (swelling) and hypersensitivity to either hot and/or cold temperatures that linger for more than just a few seconds. This also can cause spontaneous discomfort strong enough that it can wake you at night. In some instances when a tooth becomes necrotic (or “dies”), it may not cause noticeable symptoms. Treatment is still necessary as the infection can spread to the root of the tooth and into the bone and this creates an abscess. This can be detected radiographically where it might show up as a dark circle around the tip of a root in xrays and cause swollen gums.
What are some of the signs or symptoms of needing root canal therapy?
Contact our office as soon as possible if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Pressure upon chewing
- Lingering hot or cold sensitivity
- Pimple-like swelling on the gums
- Exposure of a root from trauma or decay
- Darkening of a tooth
- Radiographically, a dark circle showing up around the tip of a root on an x-ray
Can’t I just take antibiotics if I have an infected tooth? Once a tooth is infected inside the root canal chamber antibiotics may help control the infection from spreading, but will not cure the infection. So although antibiotics suppress the symptoms of the root canal pain, it cannot treat the infected tissue inside the root. Pain-killers and anti-inflammatories only temporarily help make you more comfortable by minimizing the swelling and associated discomfort.
What happens to a tooth after it has undergone root canal therapy? Once the inside of the tooth has been cleaned out, it is essentially a “dead” tooth. It loses blood supply, may become fragile, dry out and turn a darker colour. For these reasons and also because the deep decay frequently destroys the top portion of the tooth, a crown is often placed on top to protect and seal the tooth. In some cases, a post is put into the top portion of the root canal to give strength and stability to a crown, particularly when the sides of a tooth were decayed or broken down prior. The result is a solid, natural looking tooth in place of the decayed original one.
What are some of the alternatives to undergoing root canal therapy? Recent technologies in the last 20-30 years have significantly improved the success rate, comfort level, post-treatment and healing time. If you hold off on root canal therapy until there is swelling surrounding an infected tooth, it may make it more challenging to administer local anaesthetic and therefore the treatment will need to be delayed until the swelling is reduced. In these cases, cleaning out the tooth, prescribing antibiotics and anti-inflammatories and placing a temporary filling may be necessary first to calm down the area before root canal therapy can be completed. An alternative to root canal therapy is removing the infected tooth (an extraction). Although this is a quick fix for immediate pain, it can create long term bite issues and require more future treatment, such as a bridge or implant, to replace the extracted tooth. Opting for root canal therapy is often no more difficult than simply getting a large filling. Saving the tooth through root canal therapy will also help preserve the bone height in that area. At Sheppard Village Dental, our goal is to help you keep your teeth for a lifetime.
How long will the treatment last? Typically root canals have a very high success rate. When the treatment is completed properly and the tooth is not stressed from excessive lateral pressure, the tooth could last a lifetime with proper care. If a significant amount of the top portion of the tooth was lost due to trauma or decay, the success rate of the treatment could be affected. In addition, some teeth have very complex root systems making treatment more complicated and challenging. Chewing cautiously and not overstressing the tooth along with regular maintenance will help increase the chances of long-term success. Millions of teeth are saved each year by root canal therapy.
Will I always need a crown after a root canal? Depending on the cause for the root canal, the depth of decay, the amount of remaining tooth structure and the size of the opening needed to treat the tooth, you may be able to opt for a filling rather than a crown. In most cases however, a crown is generally recommended for protective purposes.
CALL TODAY TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ROOT CANALS!
Contact us to learn more about Root Canal Therapy today.
Four Things You Should Know Before You Have Root Canal Therapy.
1. DOES ROOT CANAL THERAPY HURT?
This is probably the most common question because it is often played up in pop culture as the dreaded “root canal”. The truth is if root canal therapy is completed before there is swelling and infection, it often feels no different than a filling. When the patient waits until there is swelling and an abscess, it can be more difficult to navigate around the area, which can add some discomfort to the procedure. Typically, there should be less pain or discomfort AFTER the treatment is done.
2. WHAT SPECIAL CARE OR TREATMENT DO I NEED AFTER A ROOT CANAL?
The tooth may be tender to chew on after treatment, but this typically resolves after a few days. It is a good idea to chew gently on soft foods until any discomfort disappears. It is important to note that generally after root canal therapy a crown should be placed on top of the tooth to protect and restore the chewing surface of the tooth. Feel free to ask our dentists about the options after root canal therapy.
3. DO I HAVE TO SEE A SPECIALIST FOR A ROOT CANAL?
Root canals can potentially have complicated internal structures that curve or split. There is a level of complexity that comes with treating a root canal. In many cases, using special magnification can help the dentist treat the root canal with more precision. A general dentist can perform root canal therapy, however, there are many cases when a specialist is needed due to their expertise. At Sheppard Village Dental, we have an Endodontist on site who specifically specializes in root canal therapy. You can rest easy knowing that a specialist will perform the procedure with advanced training and experience.
4. HOW MUCH DOES ROOT CANAL THERAPY COST?
At Sheppard Village Dental, we follow the Ontario Dental Association fee guide. The fee for a root canal is generally determined by the difficulty of the treatment. Back molars typically have more canals and are frequently curved or split, whereas the front teeth usually only have one canal and a single root. We treat each of our patients as individual cases and will only determine the investment once our dentists take a look at your personal situation.