Endodontic Treatment

You’re probably reading this because your endodontist has said you need endodontic treatment. If so, you’re not alone. More than 14 million teeth receive endodontic treatment each year. By choosing endodontic treatment, you are choosing to keep your natural teeth as a healthy foundation for chewing and biting for years to come.

If you’ve never had endodontic treatment-also known as root canal treatment- or if it’s been many years since your last procedure, you may have questions or outdated expectations.

This sheet answers your questions and explains how today ‘s endodontic treatment saves teeth. If you would like to know more, be sure to talk with your endodontist.

Who performs endodontic treatment?

Endoddontist’s are dentists with special training in endodontic procedures. They do only endodontics in their practices because they are specialists. To become specialists, they complete dental school and additional two or more years of advanced training in endodontics. They perform routine as well as difficult and very complex endodontic procedures, including endodontic surgery.

Endodontists are also experienced at finding the cause of oral and facial pain that has been difficult to diagnose.

What is endodontic treatment?

“Endo” is the Greek word for “inside” and “odont” is Greek for “ tooth”. Endodontic treatment treats the inside of the tooth.

To understand endodontic treatment, it helps to know something about the anatomy of the tooth. Inside the tooth, under the white enamel and a hard layer called the dentin, is a soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissues and creates the surrounding hard tissues of the tooth during development.

The pulp extends from the crown of the tooth to the tip of the roots where it connects to the tissues surrounding the root. The pulp is important during a tooth’s growth and development. However, once a tooth is fully mature it can survive without the pulp, because the tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it.

Why would I need an endodontic procedure?

Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes: deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or a crack or in the tooth. In addition, a blow to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulpal inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess. Signs of pulp damage include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, discoloration of the tooth, and swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums. Sometimes there are no symptoms.

How does endodontic treatment save the tooth?

The endodontist removes the inflamed or infected pulp, carefully cleans and shapes the inside of the tooth, then fills and seals the space. Afterwards, you will return to your dentist, who will place a crown

or other restoration on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth.

Will I feel pain during or after the procedure?

Many endodontic procedures are performed to relieve the pain of toothaches caused by pulp inflammation or infection. With modern techniques and anesthetics, patients report they are comfortable during the procedure. For the first few days after treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. This discomfort can be relieved with over the counter or prescription medications. Follow your endodontist’s instruction carefully.

Your tooth may continue to feel slightly different from your other teeth for some time after your endodontic treatment is completed However, if you have severe pain or pressure of pain that lasts more that a few days, call your endodontist.

Will the tooth need any special care or additional treatment?

You should not chew or bite on the treated tooth until you have had it restored by your dentist. The unrestored tooth is susceptible to fracture, so you should see your dentist for a full restoration as soon as possible. Most endodontically treated teeth last as long as other natural teeth. In a few cases, a tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment fails to heal or the pain continues. Occasionally, the tooth may become painful or diseased months or even years after successful treatment. Often when this happens, another endodontic procedure can save the tooth.

What causes an endodontically treated tooth to need additional treatment?

New trauma, deep decay or a loose, cracked or broken filling can cause new infection in your tooth. In some cases, the endodontist may discover very narrow or curve canals that could not be treated during the initial procedure.

Can all teeth be treated endodontically?

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 few years ago would have been lost. And, when endodontic treatment is not effective, endodontic surgery may be able to save the tooth.

What are the alternatives to endodontic treatment?

When the pulp of the tooth is damaged, the only alternative to endodontic treatment is extraction of the tooth. To restore chewing function and to prevent adjacent teeth from shifting, the tooth must often be replaced with an implant or a bridge. This requires surgery or dental procedures on adjacent healthy teeth and can be far more costly and time-consuming than endodontic treatment and restoration of the natural tooth. No matter how effective modern tooth replacements are-and they can be very effective-nothing is as good as a natural tooth.