A root canal is one of the most common dental procedures performed, well over 14 million every year. This treatment can save your natural teeth and prevent the need for more invasive replacement procedures.
At the center of your tooth is pulp. Pulp is a collection of blood vessels and nerves that helps to build the surrounding tooth. Infection of the pulp can be caused by traumatic injury, deep decay, cracks, chips, or repeated dental procedures. Symptoms of an infection can be identified as visible damage of the tooth, swelling of the face, sudden change in sensitivity to temperature or pain and swelling in the tooth and gums.
If you experience any of these symptoms, your dentist may recommend endodontic (root canal) treatment to eliminate the diseased pulp. This injured pulp is removed and the root canal system is thoroughly cleaned, disinfected, and sealed.
This therapy involves an effective dose of 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.
After completion of your endodontic (root canal) therapy you may be instructed to return to your dentist’s office within a couple of weeks for the final restoration. Often times he/she will fabricate a custom crown to offer added protection for your tooth.
It is rare for complications after routine endodontic treatment or microsurgery. However, if a problem does occur, we are available at all times to respond. To prevent further decay, and re-infection of your tooth, continue to practice good dental hygiene and be evaluated regularly at your dentist’s office.
The costs associated with this procedure can vary depending on factors such as the severity of the damage to the affected tooth and the type of tooth that is affected. In general, endodontic treatment is much less expensive than tooth removal and replacement with an artificial tooth. At your consultation appointment we will be able to discuss all of your treatment options and provide a custom treatment plan that addresses your needs.
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.