Root Canal Treatment
Root canal treatment is an often straightforward procedure to relieve dental pain and save your teeth. Patients typically need a root canal when there is inflammation or infection in the roots of a tooth. During root canal treatment, an endodontist who specializes in such treatment carefully removes the pulp inside the tooth, cleans, disinfects and shapes the root canals, and places a filling to seal the space.
Root Canal Retreatment
With proper care, you’ll keep teeth that have had root canal treatment for a lifetime but it’s possible for those teeth to heal improperly, becoming painful or diseased months or even years after treatment. If this happens to your treated teeth you have a second chance to save the tooth with retreatment. An additional procedure may be able to diminish dental pain or discomfort and promote healing. If you suspect a tooth that had a prior root canal requires retreatment, visit your dentist or endodontist for evaluation.
As with any dental or medical procedure, it’s possible your tooth won’t heal as expected after initial treatment for a variety of reasons, including:
- Narrow or curved canals were not treated during the initial procedure.
- Complicated canal anatomy went undetected in the first procedure.
- The placement of the crown or other restoration was delayed following the endodontic treatment.
- The restoration did not prevent salivary contamination to the inside of the tooth.
A new problem can also jeopardize a tooth that was successfully treated, such as:
- New decay can expose the root canal filling material to bacteria, causing a new infection in the tooth.
- A loose, cracked or broken crown or filling can expose the tooth to new infection.
- A tooth sustains a fracture. During retreatment, the endodontist will reopen your tooth and remove the filling materials that were placed in the root canals during the first procedure. The endodontist then carefully examines the tooth, looking for additional canals or new infection. The endodontist then removes any infection, cleans and shapes the canals, and places new filling materials. The opening is then sealed with a temporary filling. Once the tooth heals, a new crown or other restoration is placed on the tooth to protect it.
It’s possible that a nonsurgical root canal procedure won’t be enough to save your tooth and that your endodontist will recommend surgery. Endodontic surgery can be used to locate small fractures or hidden canals previously undetected on X-rays during the initial treatment. Surgery may also be needed to remove calcium deposits in root canals, or to treat damaged root surfaces or the surrounding bone of the tooth.
There’s no need to worry about surgery if your endodontist prescribes this additional measure. Advanced technologies like digital imaging and operating microscopes allow these procedures to be performed quickly, comfortably and successfully.
There are many surgical procedures that can be performed to save a tooth. The most common is called an apicoectomy, or root-end resection, which may be needed when inflammation or infection persists in the bony area around the end of your tooth after a root canal procedure.
Your endodontist performs this micro surgical procedure first making you comfortable by applying local anesthesia before opening the gum tissue near the tooth to see the underlying bone and to remove any inflamed or infected tissue. The very end of the root is also removed. A small filling may be placed to seal the end of the root canal and a few stitches or sutures are placed to help the tissue heal. In the next few months, the bone will heal around the end of the root. Most patients return to their normal activities the next day. Post-surgical discomfort is generally mild.
Traumatic Dental Injuries
Traumatic dental injuries often occur as a result of an accident or sports injury. The majority of these injuries are minor - chipped teeth. It’s less common to dislodge your tooth or have it knocked completely out but these injuries are more severe. Treatment depends on the type, location and severity of each injury. Regardless of the extent of the injury, your tooth requires immediate examination by a dentist or an endodontist. Sometimes, your neighboring teeth suffer an additional, unnoticed injury that can only be detected by a thorough dental exam.
Endodontists are dentists who specialize in treating traumatic dental injuries. With their advanced skills, techniques and technologies they often can save injured teeth. If you have a cracked or injured tooth, please contact our office or your general dentist right away.
Source: American Association of Endodontists
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