What is endodontics?
Endodontics is a branch of dentistry recognized by the American Dental Association involving treatment of the pulp (root canal) and surrounding tissues of the tooth. When you look at your tooth in the mirror, what you see is the crown. The rest of the tooth, the portion hidden beneath the gum line, is called the root. Though the outer portion of the root is a hard tissue called enamel, the inside channel or “root canal” contains a pulp of soft tissue, blood vessels, and nerves. Bacteria that are introduced into the pulp as a result of tooth decay, periodontal disease, tooth fracture, or other problems, can severely damage the pulp. When that happens, a root canal is required to save the tooth. During root canal therapy, an endodontic specialist removes the diseased pulp to save the tooth and prevent further infection and inflammation. After successful endodontic treatment, the tooth continues to perform normally.
What is a root canal?
A root canal is one of the most common dental procedures performed, well over 14 million every year. This simple treatment can save your natural teeth and prevent tooth loss which then requires dental implants, bridges or dentures to fill this space.
At the center of your tooth is pulp. Pulp is a collection of blood vessels and nerves that help to build the surrounding tooth. Infection of the pulp can be caused by trauma to the tooth, deep decay, or cracks and chips. Symptoms of the infection can be identified as visible injury or swelling of the tooth, sensitivity to temperature or pain in the tooth and gums.
How is a root canal performed?
After the diagnosis and the decision is made to perform root canal therapy, the injured pulp is removed and the root canal system is thoroughly cleaned and sealed. This therapy usually involves local anesthesia and may be completed in one or more visits depending on the treatment required. Success for this type of treatment occurs in about 90% of cases. If your tooth is not amenable to endodontic treatment or the chance of success is unfavorable, you will be informed at the time of consultation or when a complication becomes evident during or after treatment. We use local anesthesia to eliminate discomfort. You will be able to drive home after your treatment, and you probably will be comfortable returning to your normal routine.
What happens after treatment?
When your root canal therapy has been completed the doctor will place a temporary filling in the access cavity (small opening made in the top of your tooth to perform the root canal therapy) and a record of your treatment will be sent to your dentist. You should contact their office for a follow-up restoration within a week or two of completion at our office. You will need to have the tooth permanently restored by your General Dentist WITHIN 30 DAYS. Your general 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. To prevent further decay, continue to practice good dental hygiene.
Will I be in pain? How long will I be in discomfort?
During the procedure we will make sure your tooth is numb and you are comfortable. After the procedure,
everyone is different. You may have some discomfort for a few days. Some more invasive procedures
can be sore while you recover. We may be giving you a pain prescription to get filled in case you need it.
The pain medication will make you drowsy, so make sure that you are at home or have a driver while you
are taking it. If you need something during the day, we suggest 800mg of ibuprophen every 6 hours as needed. If discomfort lasts for more than a week please contact our office. We may need to see you.
How long will a Root Canal procedure take?
The total appointment time is typically between 45 and 60 minutes. The actual procedure working time is approximately 25 to 30 minutes. We give you the option to have the evaluation and the diagnosed treatment on the same day or we will be happy to reschedule the diagnosed treatment on a day that is convenient for you.
Do you have Spanish Speaking Staff?
YES! We are happy to offer the bi-lingual services of our team members that are fully fluent in Spanish.
Do you offer Sedation?
We see and successfully treat very anxious patients without sedation, however, nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is available upon request. Nitrous Oxide is used to reduce anxiety in extremely anxious patients. There is an additional fee so please be sure to inquire about this at check-in. We also encourage our anxious patients to bring their I-Pod/radio to help relax them during the procedure.
My tooth no longer hurts / Never hurt. Why do I need a root canal?
Even though your tooth is pain free, there is an infection in the tooth, under it and in the surrounding bone. This infection (also called an abscess) is being held in check by your body’s immune system. However, eventually this will cause pain, swelling, and potentially the loss of this tooth. Usually this will happen when your immune system is stressed. For example) if you get sick or are undergoing undue stress in your life your body is least able to contain an infection like this before it becomes painful. Performing the root canal before the symptoms arise is the most comfortable and has the most predictable and successful prognosis.
How much will it cost?
The cost associated with this procedure can vary depending on factors such as the severity of damage to the affected tooth and which tooth is affected. In general, endodontic treatment is much less expensive than tooth removal and replacement with an artificial tooth.
I’m worried about x-rays. Should I be?
No. While x-rays will be necessary during your endodontics treatment, we use an advanced non-film computerized system, called digital radiography, that produces radiation levels up to 90 percent lower than those of already low dose film x-rays. These digital images can be enlarged, optimized, archived, printed and sent to co-therapists via e-mail or diskette.
What about contamination?
We adhere to the most rigid standards of Infection Control advocated by OSHA (Occupational, Safety, and Hazard Association), CDC (The Center for Disease Control) and the ADA (American Dental Association). We will be happy to answer any questions you have regarding patient protection and give you a personal tour of our sterilization facility.
What new technologies are being used?
We constantly strive to provide our patients with the finest dental care available. Our investment in advanced technology means a long-term investment in your future. State-of–the-art technology invites informed decision-making and enables patients to make wise choices concerning their oral health. Our doctors offer the latest technology for your benefit. Some of the newest technologies are listed below:
Digital Radiography: This form of computerized x-rays uses a standard dental x-ray generator as its radiation source. An intra-oral sensor that is placed in the mouth collects the image. The color capabilities show our patients more meaningful pictures than the standard format. The “zoom” capabilities allow our patients to view localized areas for a better understanding of their diagnosis. Digital radiography reduces radiation exposure 80-90%.
Computers: Our computer system is designed to efficiently manage the most complex information in the dental industry. Our system handles treatment and payment plans. We make sure our computer system takes care of the technicalities so that you are provided with the most up-to-date information available. We also use our computer network to access patient data after hours while the staff is offsite if we need to. The system also allows us to maintain more accurate dental records.
Local Anesthesia: This anesthesia is injected into the gum tissue at or near the area to be treated, producing a numbing effect that wears off after the procedure. Most dental patients find that the use of only local anesthesia allows them to experience dental treatment comfortably. We often hear patients complain “I can never get numb!” By using a proven combination of anesthetic and delivery methods, we are sure to make the most difficult tooth numb and your procedure comfortable.
Microscopes: We are proficient with the Dental Operating Microscope. This technology of magnification and fiber optic illumination enables Our doctors to see all the way down the roots of your tooth and to see all the details inside your tooth. This is very important to maximize the success rate of the root canal. The microscope is also used in surgery where its use has improved the success rate to a very high degree. Also, a tiny video camera on the operating microscope can record images of your tooth to further document the doctor’s findings.