Endo is the Greek word for inside and dont is Greek for tooth. Root canal or endodontic treatment treats the inside of the tooth.
To understand root canal treatment, it helps to know something about the anatomy of the tooth. Inside the tooth, under the white enamel and a hard layer called the dentin, is a soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue and creates the surrounding hard tissues of the tooth during development.
The pulp extends from the crown of the tooth to the tip of the roots where it connects to the tissues surrounding the root. The pulp is important during a tooth's growth and development. However, once a tooth is fully mature it can survive without the pulp, because the tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it.
Root canal treatment is necessary when the pulp, the soft tissue inside the root canal, becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes: deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or a crack or chip in the tooth. In addition, an injury to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.
Signs to look for include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, tenderness to touch and chewing, discoloration of the tooth, and swelling, drainage and tenderness in the lymph nodes as well as nearby bone and gingival tissues. Sometimes, however, there are no symptoms.
Your dentist removes the inflamed or infected pulp, carefully cleans and shapes the inside of the canal, a channel inside the root, then fills and seals the space. Afterwards, you will return for another visit to your dentist, who will place a crown or other restoration on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function. After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth.
Many root canal 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 root canal treatment is completed. However, if you have severe pain or pressure or pain that lasts more than a few days, call your Endodontist.
Root canal Procedure Root canal treatment can often be performed in one or two visits and involves the following steps:
1. Your dentist examines and x-rays the tooth, then administers local anesthetic. After the tooth is numb, a small protective sheet called a "dental dam is placed over the area to isolate the tooth and keep it clean and free of saliva during the procedure.
2. Your dentist makes an opening in the crown of the tooth. Very small instruments are used to clean the pulp from the pulp chamber and root canals and to shape the space for filling.
3. After the space is cleaned and shaped, the root canals are filled with a biocompatible material, usually a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. The gutta-percha is placed with an adhesive epoxy cement to ensure complete sealing of the root canals. In most cases, a temporary filling is placed to close the opening. The temporary filling will be removed at your next visit before the tooth is restored.
4. After the root canal is completed, 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.
If the tooth lacks sufficient structure to hold the restoration in place, a post may be needed to be placed inside the tooth for retention to build a core upon.
The cost varies depending on how complex the problem is and which tooth is affected. Molars are more difficult to treat, the fee is generally a little bit more than an anterior tooth or a . Most dental insurance policies provide greater than 50% coverage for root canal treatment.
You should not chew or bite on the treated tooth until you have had it restored by your dentist. The un-restored tooth is susceptible to fracture, so you should return to see your dentist for a full restoration as soon as possible. Otherwise, you need only practice good oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and regular checkups and cleanings.
Most root canal treated teeth last as long as other natural teeth. In a few cases, a tooth that has undergone root canal treatment does not heal or the pain continues. Occasionally, the tooth may become painful or diseased months or even years after successful treatment. Often when this occurs, redoing the root canal procedure can save the tooth. In some cases the tooth may need to be removed and replaced by an implant or bridge.
New trauma, deep decay, or a loose, cracked or broken filling can cause new infection in your tooth. In some cases, the endodontist may discover additional, very narrow or curved canals that could not be treated during the initial procedure.
Most teeth can be treated. Occasionally, a tooth can not be saved because the root canals are not accessible, the root is severely fractured, the tooth does not have adequate bone support, or the tooth cannot be restored due to decay or fracture. However, advances in root canals are making it possible to save teeth that even a few years ago would have been lost.
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