We want you to understand about your treatment!
We understand that it’s often difficult to know what exactly is going on with your dental work. Our goal is to give you the best information possible to help you understand what procedure you are having done and why.
WHAT IS A ROOT CANAL?
Your tooth is made up of many components: enamel, dentin, cementum, and pulp (commonly referred to as the “nerve” of the tooth). Each root in a tooth has at least one canal which contains this tissue. When a tooth becomes damaged from trauma, decay, or restorations (fillings, caps/crowns, etc.) the pulp may become inflamed, causing discomfort in the tooth.
If this inflammation becomes irreversible, the tooth may need Root Canal Therapy, or it may have to be extracted. Root Canal Therapy involves the complete removal of the pulp from the tooth. The advantage of having a root canal is that it can save your tooth and restore your normal function. Other options would involve replacing an extracted tooth with a fixed bridge, removable partial denture, or a dental implant.
The first step in a root canal is to prepare an “access” opening into the tooth. This takes the form of a small hole created in the top of a posterior (back) tooth or on the lingual (tongue side) of a front tooth. By creating this access opening, you dentist can remove the pulp tissue from inside the tooth. The objective of a root canal is to remove all of the tissue from within the pulp chamber and the root canal. There may be one to four (and rarely five) canals depending on the location of the tooth in the mouth.
Cleaning and shaping the root canal system involves the removal of all inflamed or infected/dead tissue, without disturbing the outer structure of the tooth. If the root canals are small, it may take longer to complete the root canal therapy. It is not unusual to experience discomfort from you tooth for a few days after a root canal. On rare occasions, a slight swelling may occur after treatment. If the swelling persists or becomes severe, contact your dentist.
Once the root canal has been cleaned and shaped, the canal is filled with a rubber-like material (gutta percha) to prevent fluids from re-entering. Together with a cement compound, the material is placed in the root canal, providing a water-tight seal. At the end of the visit, a temporary filling will be placed and you will return to your regular family dentist to have the permanent restoration placed. The permanent restoration could be either a cap/crown or a filling.
WHAT IS A RE-TREATMENT OF A PREVIOUS ROOT CANAL?
WHAT IS ENDODONTIC SURGERY (APICOECTOMY)?
An apicoectomy is the most common endodontic surgical procedure. This procedure is used to remove infection or inflammation from the bony area around the end of your tooth. The endodontist starts by opening the gum tissue near the tooth. This allows him or her to see the underlying bone.
Next, your endodontist will remove any inflamed or infected tissue. The very end of the root is also removed.
After the inflamed or infected tissue is removed, a small filling may be placed in the root-end to seal the root canal. A few stitches are placed in the gum to help the tissue heal properly. Within a few months, the bone heals around the end of the root.
For more information on these or other Endodontic procedures please feel free to visit www.aae.org or click the link below:
The American Association of Endodontists Website