Root canal treatment

Were you told by dr. Justina that you need root canal? If so, you're not alone. Millions of teeth are treated and saved each year with the root canal, or endodontic, treatment.

 

What is a root canal?

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“Endo” is the Greek word for “inside” and “odont” is Greek for “tooth.” Endodontic treatment treats the inside of the tooth. Root canal treatment is one type of endodontic treatment.
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 tissue 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.

How to know if you need a root canal?

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Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp, the soft tissue inside the root canal, 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 chip in the tooth. In addition, an injury to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.

 

Dr. Justina answers to commonly asked questions

What are the signs of needing a root canal?

There are a few symptoms that mean you might need a root canal—

  • Severe pain while chewing or biting

  • Pimples on the gums

  • A chipped or cracked tooth

  • Lingering sensitivity to hot or cold, even after the sensation has been removed

  • Swollen or tender gums

  • Deep decay or darkening of the gums

How does endodontic treatment save the tooth?

We will remove the inflamed or infected pulp, carefully clean and shape the inside of the root canal, then fill and seal the space. Afterward, you will return to our practice to 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 root canal?

In general, many endodontic procedures are performed to relieve the pain of toothaches caused by pulp inflammation or infection. With modern techniques and anesthetics, most patients report that 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 our team's provided instructions 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 or pain that lasts more than a few days, call our office.

What can I eat after a root canal?

After a root canal, try to eat soft foods that require very little chewing, like applesauce, yogurt, eggs, and fish. Avoid hard or hot foods that might hurt your teeth. We suggest to not eat for a few hours until the numbness in your mouth wears off so you don’t bite your cheek or tongue.

Will the tooth need any special care or additional treatment after endodontic treatment?

You should not chew or bite on the treated tooth until you have had it restored by dr. Justina. The unrestored tooth is susceptible to fracture, so you should us for a full restoration as soon as possible. Otherwise, you need only practice good oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and regular checkups and cleanings.
Most endodontically treated teeth last as long as other natural teeth. In a few cases, a tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment does not heal or the pain continues. Occasionally, the tooth may become painful or diseased months or even years after successful treatment. Often when this occurs, redoing the endodontic procedure can save the tooth.

A root canal is performed when the endodontist removes the infected pulp and nerve in the root of the tooth, cleans and shapes the inside of the root canal, then fills and seals the space. Afterward, dr. Justina will place a crown on the tooth to protect and restore it to its original function.

Does a root canal kill the tooth?

A root canal does not kill the tooth, and after a root canal is complete, the tooth will be able to function as it normally does. However, root canals do remove the nerves inside the tooth, but these nerves serve very little function in a fully formed tooth.

Do you need a crown after a root canal?

Needing a crown after a root canal depends highly on the location of the tooth in the mouth—teeth towards the back of the mouth like molars and premolars are needed more for chewing, and generally require crowns, where incisors or canines which aren’t needed for chewing don’t always require crowns.

Does a root canal kill the tooth?

A root canal does not kill the tooth, and after a root canal is complete, the tooth will be able to function as it normally does. However, root canals do remove the nerves inside the tooth, but these nerves serve very little function in a fully formed tooth.

What not to do after a root canal?

After a root canal, make sure to follow all of our  instructions, which most often include avoiding hard or especially chewy foods, brushing twice a day, and being very cautious around the area where the root canal procedure was completed.

 

Step-by-Step Endodontic Procedure

Endodontic treatment can often be performed in one or two visits and involves the following steps:

  1. We will examine and take a radiograph of the tooth using x-rays, then administer local anesthetic. After the tooth is numb, we will place a small protective sheet called a “dental dam” over the area to isolate the tooth and keep it clean and free of saliva during the procedure.

  2. Dr. Justina will make an opening in the crown of the tooth. Very small instruments are used to clean the pulp from the pulp chamber and root canals and to shape the space for filling.

  3. After space is cleaned and shaped, the Dr. Justina will fill the root canals with a biocompatible material, usually a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. The gutta-percha is placed with an adhesive cement to ensure complete sealing of the root canals. In most cases, a temporary filling is placed to close the opening. The temporary filling will be removed before the tooth is restored.

  4. After the final visit, you must return to our practice to have a crown or other restoration placed on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function.

If the tooth lacks sufficient structure to hold the restoration in place, we may place a post inside the tooth.