Root canal therapy, or a “root canal,” for short, is the best way to save an infected tooth. With this endodontic treatment, you can eliminate the source of the infection, get relief from your toothache, and protect the tooth for years to come.
Root canal therapy is a procedure used to treat infected teeth. Tooth infections usually happen due to oral trauma which breaks the tooth, or advanced decay that eats through the hard outer layers of the tooth, creating a very large cavity.
This treatment involves creating an opening in an infected tooth, then using special tools to clean the inside of the tooth and eliminate the infection. When properly performed, a root canal will fully restore the tooth and protect it for 10+ years, and many root canals last a lifetime.
First, your tooth will be cleaned and the area will be numbed by the team at ONE ENDO for your comfort. You can also be sedated for your comfort.
Your endodontist will use a dental drill to trim away damaged enamel and create an opening in your tooth. Through this opening, the interior of your tooth will be cleaned.
Your dentist will extract decayed and damaged material from inside your tooth using special dental tools, and will flush and clean the interior to eliminate any remaining bacteria.
The inside of the tooth is filled with a biocompatible material that replaces the missing pulp, and then is sealed with a temporary crown or a filling. You may need to come back for another appointment for a permanent crown.
At our office, we use Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) imaging to create 3D images of your jaw and tooth for better results. Here are some of the benefits of this process.
When root canal therapy fails, it’s often because of hidden issues with the tooth that were not visible when imaging the area. CBCT enhances precision and accuracy for better results.
CBCT imaging streamlines the process of root canal treatment, reducing the time you spend in our waiting room and in the dentist’s chair, too!
CBCT helps our dentists at ONE ENDO eliminate the infection completely in one treatment, reducing the need for endodontic re-treatment.
No, root canal treatment is not painful. There’s a common misconception that root canal procedures are painful because of the debilitating pain they used to cause in the past, but that was before modern dentistry tools, technology, and anesthesia were around to make the procedure painless. Now, root canals are no more painful than a routine dental filling!
We administer local anesthesia which numbs your mouth and ensures you don’t feel any pain or discomfort. The first procedure of the root canal, in which we remove the damaged pulp and clean the canals inside of the tooth, will relieve any pain you have been experiencing from swelling and infection.
After the numbing agent wears off a few hours post-procedure, you may experience some tenderness, sensitivity, or mild pain. This will typically subside within a few days and in the meantime can be relieved with over-the-counter pain medication.
If you are experiencing significant pain that persists for more than a few days, you should contact us right away, as this is abnormal and could be a sign of a new infection.
There are a few alternatives to a root canal in limited situations but once the pulp of your tooth has become extensively damaged, your only other option will be to extract the tooth. An alternative treatment for inflamed pulp that is not infected would be a pulpotomy.
This is different from the pulpectomy that is involved in a root canal because after the damaged pulp is removed, the tooth’s nerve and canals are left intact. A solution will be applied to the canals to stop the growth of bacteria, such as calcium hydroxide, and then the tooth is filled back up.
Another alternative treatment is called direct pulp capping which can be used to treat more severe cases, usually in children or in adults in emergencies. It involves applying a sedative dressing to the pulp of the tooth, such as calcium hydroxide or mineral trioxide aggregate (MTA), before filling the tooth. This dressing protects the pulp and aids in tissue repair. However, this is usually only viable when a minimal amount of pulp is exposed.
The most common alternative to a root canal is tooth extraction. However, we highly recommend using extraction as a last resort and doing everything you can to save your tooth first. Root canals are 95% effective and while you can always have an extraction later, you can’t always have a root canal. Losing a tooth comes along with a lot of consequences and you will need to have the tooth replaced.
If the dentist has recommended root canal treatment, it is for a reason. Typically the only viable alternative to a root canal is to have the tooth extracted. Simply ignoring the damage to the tooth’s pulp can result in the infection spreading to the rest of the body and into the bloodstream, which can cause sepsis and be extremely dangerous.
The pain will get worse and infection can spread to the surrounding teeth. If you don’t want to go through with a root canal, you will need to have the tooth removed. We highly recommend trying to save the tooth because tooth loss can cause irreversible bone loss.
The only tooth replacement that can preserve the jaw bone is a dental implant which would be more expensive than getting a root canal in the first place. You will need to replace an extracted tooth with implants, a bridge, or a partial denture.
Leaving the space unfilled will cause your teeth to shift which will lead to changes in your face’s structure and appearance. If this happens, your teeth could become crooked or your jaw could become misaligned.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of a decayed tooth or damage to your tooth’s pulp, you might need a root canal to save it. Contact us at Endodontics of Westchester Shore & Greenwich Endodontics today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nicholas Mastroianni, Dr. Dean Saccomanno, or Dr. Michael Cotter.
Without root canal therapy, infected teeth will continue to die, and will eventually require removal. Get a root canal to save your smile! If you want more information regarding our services, take a look at our frequently asked questions.