Root Canal Treatment

Root Canals

Diagnoses of a Root Canal

Endodontic therapy (root canal treatment) means cleaning out the canal or "pulp chamber" that lies in the middle of the tooth and its root.  Teeth that have had root canals generally act and feel just like your other teeth and have an excellent chance of lasting as long as said other teeth.

Oral sedation may be utilized and before the doctor starts my root canal treatment, he will numb the area with local anesthetic. Heated blankets and iPods are available.  Additionally, nitrous oxide ("laughing gas") is available during the procedure to put the patient into a state of calm, pleasant relaxation. The first half-hour of nitrous oxide is at no charge; thereafter, the charge is $1 per minute. 

Then, by making a small opening in the top of the tooth, access is gained to the pulp chamber (canal) in the middle of your tooth.  Small instruments are used to remove the blood and nerve supply (and sometimes infection) inside the tooth.  Delicate files are then used to smooth and shape the canal to make sure no tissue is left that could later become re-infected.   The canal is then sterilized with medications and the canals completely filled with an inert material to prevent bacteria and fluids from getting inside the tooth.

Usually this therapy is very safe and effective; nonetheless, understand that there are risks and consequences associated with having a root canal. 

Risks and Complications Associated with Root Canal Treatment 

  1. Sometimes root canal treatment requires more than one visit to complete. During this time you may experience soreness and discomfort in and around the tooth being treated.
  2. Despite the very high procedure success rate there is a chance that the root canal treatment   will not resolve the pain.  In such instances any other procedures could include extractions (eventual loss of the tooth) or referral to an endodontic specialist.
  3. Once a tooth has been "root-canalled" it becomes more brittle than a tooth that still has its internal nerve and blood supply.  For this reason, a post & build-up strengthening procedure, followed by a crown (cap) is usually essential to preserve the integrity of the tooth. Without this protection, eventually the tooth could fracture.

 Alternatives to Root Canal Treatment 

  1. Elect NOT to have the recommended treatment at this time
  2. Consent to removing the tooth (extraction) 

Risks Associated with No Treatment or Delayed Treatment 
NOT having root canal treatment, one or more of the following MAY occur:

  1. Infection and/or spread of existing infection, resulting in a lowered immune system, increased fatigue, and pain
  2. Increased difficulty wearing conventional dentures or partial dentures (if applicable)
  3. Increased difficulty chewing
  4. Breakage and eventual loss of the tooth

Understand that there are risks inherent to the recommended treatment itself. There is no guarantee or warranty  about the results of the recommended treatment.      

There is no method that will accurately predict or evaluate how the mouth will heal. The success of surgical procedures can be affected by medical conditions, dietary and nutritional problems, smoking, alcohol consumption, clenching and grinding of teeth, TMJ problems, inadequate oral hygiene, and medications that may be taken.