Preserving Your Natural Teeth

Nothing is as good as a natural tooth! And sometimes your natural tooth may need Endodontic (root canal) treatment for it to remain a healthy part of your mouth.

Signs to look for include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, discoloration of the tooth, and swelling or tenderness in the nearby gums. But sometimes there are no symptoms.

Most patients report that having Endodontic (root canal) treatment today is as unremarkable as having a cavity filled.

Tooth anatomy

A tooth is made up of three main structures:

  1. The hard outer covering of ENAMEL.
  2. The underlying layer of DENTIN.
  3. A soft tissue - the PULP- that is comprised of the blood supply, and the nerve of the tooth, which is housed in the hollow root canal space. The pulp partially nourishes the root from the inside.

Infection of the Pulp

Sometimes the pulp inside your tooth becomes inflamed or infected. This can be caused by deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, a crack or chip in the tooth, or a physical blow (trauma) to the tooth.

In any other part of your body, if a similar tissue becomes diseased, the body merely throws it off and forms new tissue. However, a tooth is a unique and different situation.

Because the soft tissue within the tooth is totally encased within hard tissue, the body cannot get to it in order to effectively repair the damaged area.

Treatment by a Dentist or Endodontist (root canal specialist)

It is the role of the dentist or specialist to do what the body is unable to do.

Various procedures and technologies are used to access and remove the soft tissue located in the internal spaces (canals). The dentist removes the inflamed or infected pulp, carefully cleans and shapes the inside of the canal areas, then fills and seals the space.

When large amounts of tooth structure are missing or compromised due to the disease process, it may be necessary for the doctor to place a post down into the canal space to function as an anchor for the new crown or cap that may be needed to fully restore the tooth.

Although many patients may be in great pain before seeing the dentist, measures are taken by the dentist to assure pain is relieved and that they are comfortable during the procedure.

Root Canals cause Dead Teeth?

A popular myth. When the endodontic treatment is complete, the tooth is by no means dead. It receives quite adequate support from the surrounding tissues and may be expected to last as long as any other natural tooth.

Post Operative Care - Root Canal Treatment

For the first few days after treatment, the treated tooth may feel sensitive - especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. Discomfort arising from endodontic treatment can be relieved with medications.

You should not chew or bite on the treated tooth until you have had it restored (usually with a crown) by your dentist, because it could fracture the tooth in halves. Restorations should be completed on a timely basis. Root canal failure can occur if treatment is not completed in its entirety.

Best Treatment Choice? Dentist verus Endodontist

Endodontic specialists have had advanced training and typically have technologies not available to non-specialists that enable them to provide successful treatment in special, truly difficult cases. The decision to consult a specialist is usually based on the complexity of treatment.

Ultrasonic and Hand Scaling

Plaque is the colonization of natural oral bacteria on food debris that remains on the surface and in the crevices of the teeth and gums. Combining with minerals in the saliva, it ultimately forms a hard, rough sediment known as dental tartar or calculus which attracts further plaque buildup. Calculus must be removed by a dental professional for the prevention of periodontal disease.

Removal of calculus may be performed by a licensed dental hygienist or dentist, either by manual scaling of the teeth, or with an ultrasonic device. The choice of technique is a personal preference by the hygienist or wishes of the patient. Most states permit trained dental hygienists to administer local anesthetic and nitrous oxide (laughing gas), often necessary for deep periodontal scaling and root planing.

Polishing

The dental prophylaxis is refined by a final polishing of the teeth to remove stain and create a sensation of fresh breath and a clean mouth It may be accomplished by spraying high pressured water mixed with baking soda paste onto the surface of the teeth (prophy jet polishing), or a rubber cup and polishing paste. Many states permit a certified dental assistant to polish teeth with a rubber cup and to apply fluoride for children.