As an endodontic patient in your office, what should I expect?
After checking in at the front desk, we will give you a tour of the office and bring you to your treatment room. One of our certified dental assistants will take an x-ray and complete the preliminary exam. After the results are shared with the Doctor, he will come in and greet you, review the x-ray and perform his exam. Then a diagnosis is made. This will be discussed thoroughly with options addressed, risks discussed, and all questions answered.
If treatment is recommended and you agree to a treatment plan, then we will place topical anesthesia to start numbing your gums before we give the local anesthesia to put the tooth to sleep. Our doctor’s are very good at getting difficult teeth to numb! We will then isolate the tooth with a dental barrier called a rubber dam. This keeps out bacteria / saliva from the tooth and protects you from swallowing any small instruments we use or from ingesting the medicines we use to cleanse the tooth, (which don’t taste very good). We will then use the drill and our hand instruments or files to clean out inside the tooth (many patients think these are pins). A few x-rays are taken at this step also. We let our medicine sit inside the tooth for several minutes to make sure it has been sterilized and cleaned and then we dry the tooth using small points of paper. Now that the tooth is sterile, clean and dry, we will place our filling material. A few x-rays may be required to check if it is in the perfect spot, and if more filling material is needed, before the tooth is complete and the assistant places the temporary filling on it. One last x-ray, review of the home care instructions and then a good-bye from the doctor and you are done with the root canal treatment. The next step is to place a crown at your general dentist’s office in about two weeks
Your initial appointment will consist of a consultation where we will diagnose your tooth and determine what needs to be addressed. If treatment is recommended then you will have the option of having the treatment that same day. We take a conservative treatment approach and sometimes our patients are surprised to find they do NOT require root canal treatment. If however, we determine root canal treatment is required to save your natural tooth, we will then fully discuss with you all the treatment options, risks and benefits. Please assist us by providing the following information at the time of your consultation:
- Your referral slip and any x-rays if applicable
- A list of medications you are presently taking
- If you have dental insurance, please provide the necessary information to verify your eligibility to retrieve your benefits. This will save time and allow us to help you process any insurance claims.
- All patients under the age of 18 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at the consultation visit.
- Please alert our office prior to your procedure if you have a medical condition that may be of concern (i.e. diabetes, high blood pressure, artificial heart valves and joints, rheumatic fever, etc.) or if you are on any medication (i.e. heart medications, aspirin, anticoagulant therapy, etc.)
- Also please note: it is important to have regular meals before your treatment. It is not necessary to be NPO (nothing by mouth), or fasting prior to your appointment.
What is a root canal?
Root canal therapy 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 helps to build and protect 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, a record of your treatment will be sent to your dentist. You should contact their office for a follow-up restoration within a few weeks of completion at our office. 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.
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