In the very center of your tooth there are arteries, veins (that carry blood to the “pulp” or soft tissue of the tooth) and nerves. When the “pulp” becomes infected it must be physically removed, the canals shaped, sterilized and filled with a non-reactive filling material. This is called root canal treatment or Endodontic treatment.
The goals of this treatment:
- Stop the toothache after the healing period.
- Prevent infection and pain from spreading into the jaw & affecting other related parts of the body
- Maintain the tooth instead of replacing it with a space, denture or implant.
Will it cause discomfort?
During a root canal the tooth is numb from the use of a local anesthetic. We use the local anesthetic to numb the area so you are comfortable throughout the procedure, and also have relaxing gas & relaxing medications available on request. After the numbness wears off, for most people there may be only minor swelling & tenderness. For some people it may be extremely uncomfortable. That’s why we prescribe a strong pain medication and antibiotics after most root canals. Generally, the area will be sore and your jaw joint may be tired after the procedure.
It is also important to observe the precautions recommended to you by your dentist and pharmacist for the pain medication and relaxation medication. Root canal therapy can be done in 1 or more appointments depending on the amount of infection and your comfort level with long appointments and any post-operative discomfort.
- A window is created in the tooth so that any infected matter can be removed.
The root canals are enlarged, flushed with irrigants & shaped with precision instruments.
- Cotton, medicine and temporary filling may be placed in the cavity, or the tooth may be left open to drain pus.
- At the next appointment the temporary filling is removed. The cavity is filled with special rubber- like material. The root is sealed & the tooth built-up with a post / core & later a crown.
What happens after my root canal?
After the root canal the tooth may be sore and the area around the tooth may be inflamed. This is generally for 1 to 2 weeks, but in some cases may persist for much longer depending on the healing capacity of your body. The tooth may become dry and brittle and can fracture. That is why we advise all teeth with root canal NEED A CROWN and possibly a core build-up.A build-up is where we place a post / filling material down the canals of the root and place filling material around it or use the filling material for a core. This helps distribute the forces on the tooth and helps lower the chances of fracture of the tooth. We then place a crown over the build-up to hold the tooth together. The build-up and crown are separate procedures with separate fees and are not included in the fee for the root canal. After the root canal, build-up and crown, the tooth should be fine and you may use it as any other tooth.
Should I take my antibiotics?
It is very important that you take all your antibiotics to help rid the area of infection. As with all the antibiotics, FINISH the prescription as directed even if the tooth feels fine. If the antibiotics give you diarrhea, difficult breathing or make your skin break out, you may be allergic to that particular antibiotic; stop taking them and call our office IMMEDIATELY and we will change the prescription for you. If you react severely to any medication you must seek emergency care immediately
Do root canals always work?
A root canal is not a black and white cure; it is a therapy with a high success rate. Sometimes the infection never clears up and the tooth has to be retreated by a specialist, surgically filled or extracted
The success or failure of a root canal can result from causes not under our control (such as the anatomy of the tooth, inaccessible canals, breakage of endodontic files inside the root, swelling and discomfort, persisting numbness & discomfort, breakage of the tooth in between sittings, swallowing medicaments & Instruments, or the patients own immune system not being capable of battling infection ). Other complications may include limited oral function, inadvertent under filling or overfilling of the root canal, breakage of files in the canals, allergies to latex in gloves etc, bruising, post-operative pain or perforation of the root. We do not cover specialist’s fees. Alternatives to root canal treatments are extraction and subsequent replacement with a bridge, gap, partial denture or implants (which can be more expensive) .
Nothing beats your own teeth and that’s why we advise you try to save the tooth if possible.
Probable outcome is to expect complete healing without complications. Allow about 2 weeks for recovery from surgery. Complete healing may take several months. Teeth that undergo root canal treatment usually require a crown. This course of treatment will help to relieve your symptoms. If you do not have root canal treatment or an alternative treatment to manage infection, your discomfort could continue and you could face the risk of a serious, potentially life-threatening infection, loss of the tooth, abscesses in the tissue and bone surrounding your teeth (this may extend to the region around your eye, neck, ear, jaw joint or other body tissues & organs). In a worst-case scenario, not treating an infected tooth may lead to a medical emergency.