What is endodontic treatment and Why would I need an endodontic procedure?
“Endo” is the Greek word for “inside” and “odont” is Greek for “tooth.” Endodontic treatment treats the inside of the tooth. Root canal treatment is one type of endodontic treatment.
To understand endodontic treatment, it helps to know something about the anatomy of the tooth. Inside the tooth, under the white enamel and a hard layer called the dentin, is a soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue and creates the surrounding hard tissues of the tooth during development.
The pulp extends from the crown of the tooth to the tip of the roots where it connects to the tissues surrounding the root. The pulp is important during a tooth’s growth and development. However, once a tooth is fully mature it can survive without the pulp, because the tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it.
Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp, the soft tissue inside the root canal, becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes: deep decay repeated dental procedures on the tooth or a crack or chip in the tooth. In addition, an injury to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.
Signs to look for include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, tenderness to touch and chewing, discoloration of the tooth, and swelling, drainage and tenderness in the lymph nodes as well as nearby bone and gum tissues. Sometimes, however, there are no symptoms.
The Endodontist removes the inflamed or infected pulp, carefully cleans and shapes the inside of the root canal, then fills and seals the space. Afterward, you will return to your dentist, who will place a crown or other restoration on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function. After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth.
A root canal is a preferred alternative to extracting a tooth, which is why so many procedures are performed yearly. The ultimate purpose of this treatment is to save the patient’s original tooth, keeping it well-rooted, healthy and strong. When a tooth is extracted, the gums become vulnerable to decay, infection and loss of bone tissue. A root canal helps you avoid potentially expensive issues in the future.
A root canal is often completed in about two appointments. There are three main steps involved when getting this treatment:
1) The patient is sedated and the dentist uses special tools to access the tooth’s damaged tissue.
2) Dr. Delany & Dr. Moiseiwitsch thoroughly clean and disinfect the tooth, then fill it up with a substance called gutta-percha to protect it from future damage.3) A crown is secured to the top of the tooth to reinforce and protect it. This is commonly done at a separate appointment.
The Benefits of Root Canal Therapy
Root canals are advantageous over other dental solutions in a few important ways:
- With a root canal you avoid the discomfort and inconvenience of having a tooth pulled.
- A root canal allows you to keep your original tooth and avoid the expense of a tooth replacement, like a dental implant or bridgework.
- Root canals have a high rate of effectiveness, meaning that in the majority of cases the tooth fully heals and strengthens over time.
A root canal could be the dental solution that you need to return your teeth to good health. See a dentist at DC Endodontics in Washington, D.C. or call our office at (202) 364-0234.