Endodontics & Root Canals ~ Kevin M. Christ, DMD
What is endodontics?
Endodontic dentistry specializes in the area of soft tissue inside the tooth. Endodontists who perform root canals, receive advanced education after graduating from dental school and typically only deal with endodontic-related problems.
Common causes for the need of endodontic treatment:
- Inflamed/infected tooth pulp
- Severe sensitivity to hot and cold elements
- Tooth decay
- Chipped or broken tooth
- Blow to the tooth
- Swelling or tenderness near the infected tooth
- Repeated dental procedures on a tooth
A root canal is a procedure that extracts decayed pulp from the central part of the tooth, reshapes the canal and replaces it with strengthening filler.
A cavity is the result of superficial decay of the enamel of the tooth. Left long enough, this decay can burrow into the deeper reaches of the tooth, causing extensive damage to tooth structure. When the damage goes beyond what can be treated with a filling, dentists can perform a root canal (or endodontics), preserving the tooth and retaining its original integrity; thereby, saving a tooth that in the past would have to have been pulled.
A common misconception is that a root canal is a painful procedure. Actually, root canals are similar to having a cavity filled, producing minimal pain.
Root Canal Procedure:
- The patient undergoes anesthesia.
- A dental dam is used to isolate the tooth.
- The tooth is opened to allow for removal of infected or dead dental pulp.
- The tooth is comprehensively cleaned, including any cracks and canals.
- With special tools, the doctor reshapes the canals.
- The tooth is filled again with cutting edge biocompatible filling material.
- A temporary covering is used to cover the access opening.
- Patients MUST see their regular dentist quickly for a permanent restoration of the tooth.
Also known as a root-end resection, an apicoectomy literally means the removal of the apex of the root of the tooth. This procedure, done following a root canal, treats the bony area surrounding the end of your tooth, which has become inflamed or infected. By folding back the gum near the tooth, the doctor can access the underlying bone and extract the inflamed tissue. At the same time, the very tip of the root is removed and usually replaced with a small plug or filling. At this time, the endodontist may treat the area with antibiotics and will then close the area with a small suture. Eventually, the jaw surrounding the tooth will fill in with bone, supporting the tooth as before. This procedure helps ensure the lasting result of your endodontic treatment.
Please contact our office for an evaluation if you experience any of the symptoms above, and we will refer you to an endodontic specialist.