The Loop Endodontics offers many types of treatment options to best service our patients needs.
- Root Canals
- Endodontic Retreatment
- Cracked Teeth
- Traumatic Dental Injuries
What happens during root canal treatment? Learn more about this quick, comfortable procedure that can relieve your pain and save your natural tooth.
Root CanalThere’s no need to be worried if your dentist or endodontist prescribes a root canal procedure to treat a damaged or diseased tooth. Millions of teeth are treated and saved this way each year, relieving pain and making teeth healthy again.
Inside your tooth, beneath the white enamel and a hard layer called dentin, is a soft tissue called pulp. This tissue contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue, which help grow the root of your tooth during its development. A fully developed tooth can survive without the pulp because the tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it.
Modern endodontic treatment is nothing like those old sayings! It’s very similar to a routine filling and can usually be completed in one or two appointments, depending upon the condition of your tooth and your personal circumstances. Getting a root canal is relatively painless and extremely effective. You’ll be back to smiling, biting and chewing with ease in no time.
Saving the natural tooth with root canal treatment has many advantages:
- Efficient chewing
- Normal biting force and sensation
- Natural appearance
- Protects other teeth from excessive wear or strain
With proper care, you’ll keep teeth that have had root canal treatment for a lifetime but it’s possible for those teeth to heal improperly, becoming painful or diseased months or even years after treatment. If this happens to your treated teeth you have a second chance to save the tooth with retreatment. An additional procedure may be able to diminish dental pain or discomfort and promote healing. If you suspect a tooth that had a prior root canal requires retreatment, visit your dentist or endodontist for evaluation.
As with any dental or medical procedure, it’s possible your tooth won’t heal as expected after initial treatment for a variety of reasons, including:
- Narrow or curved canals were not treated during the initial procedure.
- Complicated canal anatomy went undetected in the first procedure.
- The placement of the crown or other restoration was delayed following the endodontic treatment.
- The restoration did not prevent salivary contamination to the inside of the tooth.
A new problem can also jeopardize a tooth that was successfully treated, such as:
- New decay can expose the root canal filling material to bacteria, causing a new infection in the tooth.
- A loose, cracked or broken crown or filling can expose the tooth to new infection.
- A tooth sustains a fracture.
During retreatment, the endodontist will reopen your tooth and remove the filling materials that were placed in the root canals during the first procedure. The endodontist then carefully examines the tooth, looking for additional canals or new infection. The endodontist then removes any infection, cleans and shapes the canals, and places new filling materials. The opening is then sealed with a temporary filling. Once the tooth heals, a new crown or other restoration is placed on the tooth to protect it.
If your dentist is recommending an apicoectomy, it means that your tooth cannot be successfully treated with conventional root canal treatment (which will be described below). An apicoectomy is a minor surgical procedure in which the very tip of the tooth’s root is removed (“apico” – apex or end; “ectomy” – removal) and sealed. It is usually performed by an endodontist (“endo” – inside; “dont” – tooth), a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of tooth pain from root canal disease.
Saving Teeth With Conventional Root Canal Treatment
As the illustration on this page shows, a space inside the tooth called the pulp chamber houses the pulp — the living tissue (nerves, blood vessels and connective tissues) that keeps the tooth alive. A root canal system branches from this chamber. Endodontic treatment, commonly known as root canal treatment, is needed when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. This can happen for several reasons: deep tooth decay; repeated dental procedures to a tooth (replacing a large filling, for example); or traumatic damage such as a crack, chip or even a fracture. If the pulp dies, the pulp chamber and canals can become infected. That infection can eventually spread into the surrounding bone and other tissues around the tip of the root.
Endodontists use radiographs (x-rays), or sometimes CBCT scans (cone beam-computed tomography) that create three-dimensional views, to examine root canals and diagnose disease that might otherwise go undetected.
Conventional root canal treatment involves drilling a small access hole into the pulp chamber through the biting surface of a back tooth, or from behind a front tooth. Inflamed or infected tissue is removed from the pulp chamber and root canals, and the space is disinfected, shaped with tiny flexible instruments, filled, and sealed. A temporary or permanent filling material will then be placed to cover the access hole. A permanent cap (crown) is often used to replace lost tooth structure and to protect the tooth from biting stresses and further damage.
If At First It Didn’t Succeed
As you can see, a lot of work goes into treating root canal infection. But root canals may become re-infected for a variety of reasons: new or recurrent decay; previously undetected accessory (extra) canals branching from the primary canal at the root end of the tooth; and, occasionally, calcification (narrowing and hardening) of canals — a reaction to trauma or aging that can block the canals and prevent them from being fully cleaned by conventional root canal treatment.
Sometimes, conventional root canal retreatment may not be feasible, or may even jeopardize the tooth. For example, accessing the canals of a tooth that has a crown and a post in place may require taking apart the entire restoration, which could further weaken the tooth. In such cases, a better alternative is to treat infection from the root end of the tooth (instead of the crown end) with an apicoectomy.
Whether your tooth cracks from an injury or general wear and tear, you can experience a variety of symptoms ranging from erratic pain when you chew your food to sudden pain when your tooth is exposed to very hot or cold temperatures. In many cases, the pain may come and go and your dentist may have difficulty locating the tooth causing the discomfort. If you experience these symptoms or suspect a cracked tooth, it’s best to see an endodontist as soon as possible.
Endodontists specialize in saving cracked teeth and will cater treatment to the type, location and extent of the crack. The sooner your tooth is treated, the better the outcome. Once treated, most cracked teeth continue to function as they should, for many years of pain-free biting and chewing.
Traumatic Dental Injuries
Traumatic dental injuries often occur as a result of an accident or sports injury. The majority of these injuries are minor – chipped teeth. It’s less common to dislodge your tooth or have it knocked completely out but these injuries are more severe. Treatment depends on the type, location and severity of each injury. Regardless of the extent of the injury, your tooth requires immediate examination by a dentist or an endodontist. Sometimes, your neighboring teeth suffer an additional, unnoticed injury that can only be detected by a thorough dental exam.
Endodontists are dentists who specialize in treating traumatic dental injuries. With their advanced skills, techniques and technologies they often can save injured teeth. If you have a cracked or injured tooth, call us right away.