Endodontic treatment, also known as root canal therapy, is essential when the pulp of your tooth is infected or inflamed. There are several causes of inflammation or infection of the root pulp, including repeated dental procedures on a tooth, deep decay, chipped, or cracked teeth. A blow to the tooth could cause extensive damage and call for a root canal even if the tooth does not have visible cracks or chips. If an inflamed or infected tooth is left untreated, a dental abscess might occur, causing severe pain. If you need reliable endodontic treatment in Los Angeles, Carson, Torrance & Lomita, CA, you can count on Washington Dental.
When Endodontic Treatment is Necessary
Any dental treatment that involves treating the tooth's inner tissues, commonly known as the nerve or the pulp, is a form of endodontic therapy. The term endodontic comes from two words, endo, meaning inside, and odont, which means tooth. Most teeth requiring endodontic treatment are often challenging to diagnose. This is where an endodontic specialist comes in. When performing an endodontic procedure, the dentist cleans out the infected area to preserve or save the tooth. Which dental conditions call for endodontic treatment?
1. Fractured or Chipped Teeth
Most chipped teeth do not require advanced dental treatment and can be treated with a simple dental filling. In some instances, a chip on the tooth might expose the tooth's pulp. Dentists can treat these exposures by placing a filling on the affected area. However, in other instances, root canal treatment might be necessary. Your dentist might recommend an endodontic treatment if you have cracked teeth, fractured cusps, or a more severe injury like split teeth. If the crack on your tooth does not extend to the root, the dentist can restore your teeth using a dental crown. However, if the crack extends to the root and affects the tooth's pulp, root canal treatment might be necessary to save the tooth's remaining portion.
2. Intruded/ Dislodged Teeth
If you suffer a blow on your mouth or another injury, the tooth might be pushed into its socket. This is a severe injury, and you may have to visit an endodontic specialist to stabilize and reposition your tooth. The endodontist will commence the root canal treatment within several weeks of your injury. During the procedure, the endodontist might place medicines like calcium hydroxide inside your tooth. The dentist then places a permanent root canal filling at a late date. After undergoing root canal treatment, your dentist should c regular monitoring to ensure that the tooth heals appropriately.
3. Extruded/Dislodged Teeth
In some instances, an injury could lead to a dislodgment of your tooth, which involves the tooth being pushed out of its socket. It is necessary to stabilize and reposition the dislodged tooth. If the pulp remains healthy, endodontic treatment will not be necessary after repositioning the dislodged tooth. However, if the pulp suffers an injury, your endodontist or dentist may need to commence a root canal treatment. The initial root canal treatment will involve placing medication like calcium hydroxide inside the tooth. The dentist will then perform a permanent root canal filling later.
4. Knocked-Out or Avulsed Teeth
Time is of the essence if your tooth is knocked off from your mouth. In this case, you should pick up the tooth by the chewing portion of the crown; avoid touching the root. If the tooth is dirty, you should rinse it gently in clean water. You should not use soap or any other cleaning agent while rinsing the tooth. If possible, replace the tooth to its socket and seek dental treatment. If you cannot place the tooth back to its socket, you should ensure that you keep it moist. The more you prevent the tooth from drying out, the higher the chances of saving the tooth. You can purchase a recommended solution from the nearest drug store and soak the tooth to keep it moist. You could also soak the tooth in slightly salty water or a glass of milk. You could also keep the tooth moist by placing it between your gums and the cheek. Ensure that you visit your dentist immediately.
After placing the tooth back in its socket, the dentist may use a splint to stabilize the tooth. If the tooth is not in its socket, your dentist will examine the tooth, clean it, and place it in its socket. Your dentist may need to use a splint to stabilize the tooth for a particular duration. After some time, the dentist may commence an endodontic/root canal treatment. The dentist may first place the medication in the tooth before placing the permanent root canal filling. The type of treatment you receive will depend on how long the tooth was out of the mouth and how you stored it before reaching your dentist.
5. Root Fractures
Endodontic/root canal treatment might also be necessary if your tooth suffers a root fracture. Horizontal root fractures often result from traumatic injuries on the tooth. The long-term health of the tooth will depend on the location of the fracture. Chances for success are higher if the fracture is close to the root tip. There is also a higher chance of success if the fracture does not cause the tooth to separate into two.
If the fracture is close to the chewing surface, chances of success are lower regardless if the tooth has separated. In the case of root fractures, the dentist may need to stabilize the tooth with a splint. Root canal treatment might be necessary in case of damage to the tissue inside the tooth. The dentist will place medication inside the tooth to prepare the tooth for the permanent root canal filling placement.
The Common Endodontic Procedures
Below are some of the most common endodontic procedures:
Root Canal Treatment
Root canal treatment comes in handy in eliminating bacteria from the infected root pulp or root canal. It helps to save the natural tooth and prevent reinfection. When performing a root canal procedure, the dentist removes the infected and the inflamed pulp, cleans and infects the inside of the affected tooth, and then fills and seals it.
Most people do not understand endodontic treatment. You should not panic when your dentist recommends a root canal treatment. Root canal treatment is a quick and comfortable procedure that helps relieve pain and save the natural tooth. Every year, millions of people undergo root canal treatment to save diseased or damaged teeth. The process helps relieve pain and makes your teeth healthy again.
The root pulp is a material that lies inside the tooth, beneath the enamel and the dentin. The pulp contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues that grow the root during the development stage. If the tooth is fully developed, it can survive without the pulp because it is nourished by the tissues surrounding it.
The modern root canal treatment is nothing like the common myths. It is a procedure similar to a routine dental filling, and your dentist can complete the procedure within one or two appointments. The needed appointments to complete a root canal treatment vary depending on your circumstances and the tooth's condition. After a root canal treatment, you will be back to biting, smiling, and chewing with relative ease.
Below are some of the benefits of a root canal treatment:
- Efficient/improved chewing
- Natural tooth appearance
- It protects the teeth from excessive strain or wears
- It restores normal sensation and biting force
Whether a Root Canal Hurts
Many people shudder at the thought of undergoing root canal treatment because they fear the associated pain. However, a root canal treatment is not painful because a dentist administers it under anesthesia. It is more like undergoing a regular dental procedure of having your teeth filled or wisdom teeth removed. It's normal to experience numbness after a root canal procedure or experience mild discomfort for several days.
After undergoing a root canal procedure, you are likely to feel numb for two to four hours. However, most patients can resume work after a root canal procedure. However, you should avoid eating until the numbness wears off.
A Good Candidate for Root Canal Treatment
Who is the right candidate for a root canal treatment?
Root canal treatments come in handy for patients with cracked teeth, deep cavities, or issues with their previous fillings. You might need a root canal treatment if you often experience tooth sensitivity when consuming hot or cold drinks. Some of the symptoms that could mean that you need a root canal treatment include:
- Excessive pain while biting or chewing
- Pimples or painful bumps on the gums
- A cracked or a chipped tooth
- Persistent sensitivity to cold or hot items
- Tender or swollen gums
- Darkening or the gums or a deep tooth decay
The Cost of a Root Canal Treatment
The cost of a root canal treatment will vary depending on the affected tooth and the complexity of the problem. A root canal treatment on the molars is likely to be more expensive because molars are challenging to treat. Most dental insurance policies provide coverage for endodontic treatment.
Undergoing an endodontic treatment and restoring your natural teeth is more affordable than extracting your teeth. When you remove your tooth, you have to replace it with a bridge or a dental implant to prevent the neighboring teeth from shifting. These dental procedures are likely to be more expensive than endodontic treatment and restoration of your teeth.
With proper maintenance, you can preserve the teeth that have undergone endodontic treatment for a lifetime. However, at times, the teeth might heal improperly and become sensitive and painful many months or even years after the initial treatment. If this happens to you, you have a second chance to save your tooth with endodontic retreatment. Retreatment could relieve pain and promote healing. If you suspect that a tooth that has undergone a root canal treatment requires retreatment, you should contact your dentist immediately.
There are several reasons why the tooth might not heal as expected, calling for endodontic retreatment:
- If the curved or the narrow canals do not undergo treatment during the initial procedure
- The dentist did not detect complicated canal anatomy during the first root canal procedure.
- There was a delay during a dental restoration placement, like a dental crown after the initial endodontic treatment.
- The dental restoration did not hinder salivary contamination to the inside of your mouth.
New problems could also affect a tooth that had initially undergone a root canal treatment and necessitate endodontic retreatment:
- Recent tooth decay, which exposes the root canal filling to bacteria, causing reinfection of the tooth.
- A loose, broken, or cracked filling or crown, which could expose the tooth to a new infection
- If the tooth sustains a fracture and allows bacteria to penetrate the tooth, the endodontist will open up the tooth during endodontic retreatment and remove the filling materials placed within the first procedure. The dentist will examine the tooth and look out for additional infections and new canals. The dentist will clean the tooth, remove any infection, clean and shape the canals before placing the new filling materials. The dentist will seal the tooth's opening with a temporary filling. After the teeth heal, the dentist will place a permanent filling and a new crown to protect the tooth.
f the dentist realizes that a non-surgical root canal treatment might not be adequate to save your tooth, they might recommend surgery. Through endodontic surgery, your dentist can be able to locate hidden canals and minor fractures that could not be detected on X-rays during the first treatment. A dentist may also recommend surgery to remove calcium deposits in the root canals. Surgery may again come in handy to treat damaged root surfaces and the bone surrounding the teeth.
If your endodontist prescribes surgery, there is no need to panic. With advanced technologies like operating microscopes and digital imaging, these procedures are easy to perform. Dentists can perform many surgical procedures to save an ailing tooth. The most common surgical procedures include root-end resection or an apicoectomy. Surgery might be necessary if there is persistent infection or inflammation in the bony area surrounding the end of the tooth following a root canal procedure.
While performing any surgical procedure, your dentist will first make you comfortable by applying local anesthesia. The dentist will then open the gum tissue near the affected tooth to determine the underlying bone condition and remove any infected or inflamed tissue. Most patients return to their normal activities the next day after dental surgery. The discomfort post-surgery is relatively mild.
If Endodontic Treatment is Not Enough
After an injury or an infection, saving your tooth should always be the priority. Even the most modern and advanced bridges and dental implants can't be better than your natural tooth. Therefore, it is crucial to speak with your endodontist immediately when you start experiencing pain to discuss your options. If a dentist recommends tooth extraction, you should consult an endodontist to determine if they can manage to save your tooth with root canal treatment.
If all endodontic treatments, including endodontic surgery, fail, tooth extraction might be the only option. After tooth extraction, you might consider a dental implant, which will enable you to bite and chew food properly. Dental implants also prevent your healthy teeth from shifting and help you maintain a natural appearance. It's advisable to take time and discuss your treatment options with your dentist to choose the best for your overall health.
Three Common Myths about Root Canal Treatment
If you are not familiar with a root canal or endodontic treatment, the thought of undergoing a root canal might make you uneasy or fearful. There are common misconceptions about root canals that make people have a negative attitude towards the procedure. Below are some of the common myths that often mislead people about root canal treatment:
Root Canal Procedure is Painful
In the past, this statement would have been true. However, you won't experience more pain during a root canal treatment with aesthetics and modern technology than you would while undergoing a dental filling. Instead of causing you pain, a root canal procedure helps relieve the pain that accompanies a decayed tooth. Endodontic specialists are often experts in pain management. They will perform the root canal procedure fast and comfortably.
Root Canal Treatment Could Cause an Illness
There are several myths, especially on the internet, claiming that you might fall ill if you undergo a root canal treatment. Some people claim that if you undergo a root canal treatment, you might fall sick in the future. However, this myth is false, and it is based on the misunderstandings of the various causes of certain illnesses. There is no scientific evidence that links a root canal treatment to any disease in the body. Therefore, you should not fear undergoing a root canal for fear of developing an illness.
Tooth Extraction is Better than a Root Canal
You might have heard that it is better to have your tooth pulled out than to undergo a root canal treatment. This is another false myth because it is always good to save your natural teeth if possible. Therefore, instead of a tooth extraction, it is good to consider root canal treatment as an option. Due to technological advancement and good treatment techniques, root canal treatment has a high success rate. After a root canal treatment, many teeth last for a lifetime. After tooth extraction, you would have to replace the extracted tooth with an implant or a dental bridge, which calls for more treatment time. If you have a tooth extracted and do not go for a dental bridge or implant, the neighboring teeth might start shifting.
Preparing for an Endodontic (Root Canal Treatment)
When your dentist recommends a root canal procedure, it might seem like a daunting task given the many misconceptions surrounding the procedure. Instead of panicking, you should take the necessary measures to prepare for the endodontic treatment. Here is how you can prepare for a root canal treatment:
- Avoid taking alcohol or tobacco for 24 hours before the root canal procedure. While undergoing a root canal treatment, the orthodontist will inject anesthesia into your gums, and it might react with alcohol or tobacco.
- Ensure that you eat before the root canal procedure. The dentist will administer local anesthesia during treatment, and you are likely to be numb for hours after the treatment. The numbness could make it hard to eat. Eating before the endodontic procedure will make the recovery period much easier.
- Some dentists advise their patients to take pain medication before the treatment. For instance, the dentist might recommend you take ibuprofen, which is an anti-inflammatory pain reliever.
- You should also get enough rest before and after the root canal procedure. The human body recovers most while at rest. Therefore, getting enough rest will help you recover fast from the endodontic treatment.
- Ensure that you ask all the necessary questions to ensure that you understand what endodontic treatment entails. You will feel more peaceful when you know what the treatment process entails and what to expect.
After Endodontic Treatment
It is advisable to avoid biting on the tooth for 30 minutes after the endodontic treatment until the filling hardens. You should also avoid eating or biting your tongue, cheek, or lip when the anesthesia is still active because you might injure your mouth without realizing it. If your child undergoes endodontic treatment, you should watch them closely immediately after the procedure.
The dentist may recommend pain medication, which you should take before the anesthesia wears off. You can then continue taking the pain medication for 1 or 2 days after the procedure. Your dentist might recommend stronger medication if they find it necessary.
In most cases, you do not need antibiotics after a root canal treatment. However, your dentist might prescribe antibiotics if they feel it will be necessary.
Find a Reliable Endodontist Near Me
Endodontic treatment can help you save your teeth when other treatment methods fail. To get the most out of endodontic treatment, you should ensure that you only have an experienced endodontist perform the procedure. For the best endodontic services in Los Angeles, Carson, Torrance & Lomita, CA, contact Washington Dental and speak to one of our dentists.