K&W Dental
 

What is a root canal?

Root canal treatment is designed to eliminate bacteria from the infected root canal, prevent reinfection of the tooth and save the natural tooth. When one undergoes a root canal, the inflamed or infected pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected, then filled and sealed.

Why do I need a root canal?

Sometimes the pulp inside your tooth becomes inflamed or infected. This can be caused by deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, a crack or chip in the tooth, and trauma to the tooth.

What are the symptoms?

Signs to look for include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, discoloration of the tooth, and swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums. However, in some cases there may be no symptoms.

How does root canal treatment save the tooth?

After obtaining good anesthesia, the endodontist removes the inflamed or infected pulp tissue, carefully cleans and shapes the inside of the tooth, then fills and seals the pulp spaces with gutta percha (a root filling material). The number of visits you will need at our office will depend on your particular case. Some treatments take two or more visits but many require a single visit.

Will I feel pain during or after root canal treatment?

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 your endodontist’s instructions carefully. Your tooth may continue to feel slightly different from your other teeth for some time after your endodontic treatment is completed. If you have severe pain or pressure or pain that lasts more than a few days, call our office.

Will the tooth need any special care or additional treatment?

Upon completion of treatment, we will place a temporary filling your tooth. You will need to return to your family dentist to have the tooth restored (crown, filling). We ask that you wait no longer than six weeks to return to your family dentist for the permanent restoration of your tooth. You should not bite or chew on the treated tooth until it has been restored. Otherwise, just practice good oral hygiene brushing, flossing and regular checks-ups and cleanings. We will send you a post card in a year to follow up on the treated tooth. Endodontically treated teeth can last for many years, even a lifetime.

Will the tooth need any special care or additional treatment?

Upon completion of treatment, we will place a temporary filling your tooth. You will need to return to your family dentist to have the tooth restored (crown, filling). We ask that you wait no longer than six weeks to return to your family dentist for the permanent restoration of your tooth. You should not bite or chew on the treated tooth until it has been restored. Otherwise, just practice good oral hygiene brushing, flossing and regular checks-ups and cleanings. We will send you a post card in a year to follow up on the treated tooth. Endodontically treated teeth can last for many years, even a lifetime.

Tooth Restoration

After the final visit with your endodontist, you must return to your dentist to have a crown or other restoration placed on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function.  

Follow up care

After the tooth has been fully restored by your dentist, you should return to the endodontist annually to follow up on the root canal treated tooth to make sure that it is healing and no other procedures are needed.  Root canals work about 90% of the time.  Sometimes more dental procedures are required to remove the infection and save the tooth.

Reasons why healing has not successfully occurred:

  1. Narrow or curved canals that were not easily accessed and were not treated at initial treatment.

  2. New decay (cavity) in the tooth.

  3. Broken or cracked crown.

  4. The permanent restoration (e.g., crown, filling) was not placed within the appropriate time following the procedure.

  5. The permanent restoration did not create an adequate seal, allowing saliva and bacteria to re-infect the tooth.

What happens during endodontic retreatment?

You and one of our endodontists review the appropriate treatment plan for you. If you both agree that retreatment is your best option for the success of your tooth, one of our endodontists gives you a local anesthetic to ensure you are comfortable during the procedure. The inside of the tooth is accessed and the filling material placed at your initial treatment is removed. If there is complex restorative material, such as a post or core, this is also removed. The canals are cleaned, disinfected and reshaped. At this point, a medicine called calcium hydroxide is placed in the tooth for up to two weeks. Then the root canal can be finished after two or more weeks when the symptoms have subsided.