Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. The most common reasons for inflammation or infection are deep cavities (caries), repeated dental procedures, cracks, or chips. Trauma can also cause inflammation and often shows up as discoloration of the tooth. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.
Indications for treatment include prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, discoloration of the tooth, or swelling and tenderness of the tooth or adjacent gums. Sometimes there are no symptoms.
Most treatment can be completed in one appointment, but it is not uncommon to need a second visit to complete treatment. Occasionally three appointments may be needed, however, there is no additional financial investment required if multiple visits are needed. In any case, it depends on the degree of infection/inflammation and degree of treatment difficulty. We believe it is more important to do it the very best we can, than to meet a specific time criteria.
How Can Endodontic Treatment Help Me?
Endodontic Therapy (Root Canal) is not a cure, but rather a highly successful therapy. It is simply the very best treatment dentistry has to offer to help patients maintain their teeth once the nerve and blood supply become diseased. Studies have shown that under optimal conditions success rates may be as high as 97-98%. However, this means that even with our best efforts the endodontic therapy may be unsuccessful and require conventional retreatment, surgical retreatment, or extraction. Therefore, endodontic therapy cannot be guaranteed. We will discuss with you the chances of success before any endodontic procedure to help you make an informed decision. If a root canal or endodontic therapy is unsuccessful, you have other options.
During Endodontic Therapy we remove the inflamed or infected pulp, carefully clean and shape the canal system and then seal the prepared space. Once treatment is completed, you will be instructed to return to your dentist for a permanent restoration. Restoration of the tooth is an important part of treatment because it seals the cleaned canals from the oral environment, helps protect the tooth from fracture, and restores it to function.
Once endodontic therapy is completed your tooth should be examined periodically, usually every 6 - 12 months. This allows us to make sure the tooth has healed or is healing properly. You will be sent a notice in the mail when we feel it is appropriate to reevaluate the area. Since an abscess may take 2 years to heal, our office will reevaluate the tooth for at least 2 years.
Will I Feel Pain During Or After The Procedure?
Toothache is the main reason for patients seeking treatment. Fortunately, modern anesthetics can make the procedure pain free in most cases. Seeking treatment early makes the procedure more comfortable, so don't wait. When caught early, treatment should feel no different than having a regular filling. For the first few days after treatment, there may be some sensitivity to biting pressure, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. Sometimes over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like Advil are recommended for a day or two. We can prescribe other medications if they are required.
What Happens After Treatment?
When your endodontic therapy has been completed, a record of your treatment will be sent to your restorative dentist. You should contact your restorative dentist office for a follow-up restoration within a few weeks of completion at our office. Your restorative dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth. It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine endodontic treatment or microsurgery. If a problem does occur, however, we are available at all times to respond.