Did you know…that endodontists perform an estimated 5.7 million procedures every year? Of those, the American Association of Endodontists reports that more than 4.2 million are root canal treatments. Despite the majority of those being widely successful, there are still several myths surrounding root canal treatment. For example, root canal treatments do not cause pain as rumored; they relieve it. Similarly, extracting a diseased tooth is not a better alternative to root canal treatment, as keeping as much of your natural tooth as possible should be the treatment goal of you and your dentist.
Root canal retreatment is a procedure used to clean the canals of a tooth that have already been subject to a root canal. Although most root canals are successful the first time, there are many reasons why a retreatment may be necessary. For example, some patients may have hidden canals that were not identified in the initial procedures, whereas others may experience a new infection caused by a loose crown or damaged filling. In some cases, these complications can occur immediately following a root canal when pain continues to persist and the tooth fails to heal. For other patients, complications can arise many years after an initial root canal. The goal of re-treatment is always the same as the initial root canal: Eliminate all bacteria from the inside of the tooth and seal it so that it is permanently protected from future infections.
Did you know…
that a retreated root canal can allow a natural tooth to last many years or even a lifetime? In fact, the National Institutes of Health confirm that successful treatment is a realistic goal of root canal retreatment. As with any dental procedure, there is no guarantee that retreatment will be a success for every patient. However, the majority of root canal retreatment patients – approximately 70 percent – experience positive outcomes.
If your root canal treatment was unsuccessful or a new infection has occurred in a previously treated tooth, retreatment offers a chance to save your tooth without having it extracted. If many years have passed since your initial root canal, innovative new methods may be available to your endodontist that were not an option during your first treatment. Of course, there is no way to know whether retreatment is right for you without first consulting with your endodontist.
If you determine that retreatment is right for you, your tooth will be reopened so that the filling may be removed from your tooth. Special instrumentation will be used to identify hidden canals or areas of the tooth that could be harboring an infection. These areas will be cleaned out and refilled. You’ll then return to your dentist for a crown or other type of restoration.
As with your first root canal, your retreatment will require you to avoid chewing or biting with your treated tooth until you can return to your dentist for a restoration. You may also experience some discomfort following your treatment. These usually subside within a few days, but contact your endodontist if pain persists or worsens.
Root canal treatment is an endodontic procedure used to clear infected pulp away from the pulp chambers and canals of a diseased tooth. Infections occur when bacteria are allowed to enter the pulp – often due to untreated decay or a crack in the tooth. During a root canal, the tooth is opened and the pulp removed. Biocompatible cement is used to fill the tooth before it is restored with a crown or other restoration.
Did you know…
that while most infected teeth are easily identified by the symptoms they cause, some produce no discomfort at all? It is important to visit your dentist regularly for routine exams that may reveal diseased teeth that would otherwise go unnoticed. Failure to treat an infected tooth could result in the death of the tooth and total loss. Worse, the infection can spread to other areas of the body, causing potentially life-threatening conditions.
You may need a root canal if tooth decay or a broken tooth has allowed the pulp to become infected and inflamed. Signs and symptoms to watch out for include temperature sensitivity, swelling, drainage, odor, pain, and discoloration of the tooth. It is important to treat infections quickly, as delaying treatment can result in severe tooth pain and abscess.
Your endodontist will numb your tooth with a local anesthetic and administer analgesia if needed. Once the tooth is numb, an opening will be made in the top of your tooth to access the canals. Your endodontist will use tiny instruments to remove pulp from your tooth and prepare it to be filled. You will return at a later date to have your root canal capped with a crown or other type of restoration that will give it the appearance and function of a natural tooth.
You will be allowed to drive yourself home from your root canal visit and may even wish to return to work the same day. However, it is normal for your tooth to be sensitive in the days following your procedure. You’ll need to avoid biting anything with your filled tooth, as this can cause it to break or fracture. So long as the tooth heals normally and you experience no complications, you can return to your endodontist within a month to have a crown or other restoration placed on the tooth.
If you are undergoing a procedure or operation, you will be given a set of post-operative instructions to abide by in the hours, days, and weeks after your treatment. Following these instructions is essential to preventing infections in surgical sites, protecting restorations, and minimizing the possibility of experiencing complications. Postoperative instructions vary from procedure to procedure, but you are still sure to have some questions regarding care. Your dentist will be available to answer those questions and respond to any concerns you may have.
Try to anticipate some of the questions you may have about your post-operative care and ask them prior to your treatment.
Some of the most common post-op questions include:
How should I manage pain following my procedure?
How long should I experience discomfort?
Do I need to follow any special dietary guidelines?
Is it safe for me to drink through a straw?
Will I be able to drive myself home after my procedure?
Will I need to take an antibiotic?
Will I need to return to your office for a follow-up appointment?
When will my permanent restorations be ready?
How do I care for my removable prosthesis?
Yes. Your post-operative care is contingent on you understanding everything about the recovery process and your responsibilities in caring for your surgical site.
Your endodontist should allocate enough time in your consultation and pre-operative exam to listen to your concerns and answer any questions you may have. You should also be provided a phone number that you can call following your procedure to discuss any questions that may come up at that time.
Yes. Begin thinking of any questions you may have about your post-operative care, and begin writing them down. You’ll be ready to ask all of your questions when the opportunity arises without missing any important details.
Endodontic treatments have come a long way in recent years due in part to modern advancements in endodontic technology. Visiting an endodontist is much different than it would have been even just a few years ago thanks to advanced digital imaging tools that help automate office procedures. These tools allow for better accuracy, greater comfort and improved outcomes for patients.
Some of the advanced technologies that can be found in endodontic offices include:
3D Cone Beam Imaging – Technology that captures 360-degree images of the teeth, jaw, and connective tissues.
Apex Locators – Electronic devices capable of identifying the apex, or endpoint, of a tooth root. With an accuracy of more than 96 percent, this device makes it possible for an endodontist to administer root filling within 0.5mm of the apex.
Ultrasonics – Advanced devices capable of aiding in retreatments that require the removal of metal instruments, such as posts, in the canal system. Ultrasonics can make it possible to identify calcified canals and assist in preserving the natural tooth.
Surgical Microscopes – Surgical microscopes magnify the treatment site to allow endodontists to see into the tooth root system with greater detail. Surgical microscopes allow for increased precision when treating complicated root systems.
Yes! The technology available to endodontists is changing the way patients get care. Your treatment experience and outcome could be significantly improved by visiting an endodontist who employs the use of state of the art equipment.
Depending on your procedure, you can expect a faster treatment and more accurate results.
Your endodontist will inform you of any post-operative instructions that you need to follow after treatment. Though you may not need to return to the endodontist following your procedure, it may be necessary for you to return to your restorative dentist if you need a crown or other restoration.
Your first visit to an endodontist lays the foundation for your future treatment. It will consist of a thorough review of your medical and dental history, as well as an evaluation of your symptoms. During your visit, your endodontist may review existing x-rays or request additional x-rays and 3D imaging to make an accurate diagnosis. Based on your endodontist’s findings, you will receive a treatment plan recommendation and be given the opportunity to ask questions about your diagnosis and treatment.
In order to expedite your initial visit and streamline your office visit, you’ll need to come prepared with the following:
A referral from your general dentist or other specialists
A copy of your dental insurance card
Personal information forms
Treatment release forms
A list of your current medications
X-rays or a signed release of x-rays from your dentist
You should see an endodontist if you require an apicoectomy or treatment for a root canal or broken tooth that is beyond the expertise of a general dentist. You’ll need a referral to see an endodontist, so consult with your dentist about whether you should see an endodontic specialist.
If you visit an endodontist, you’ll be evaluated and diagnosed based on your symptoms and image results. You may also be subject to additional screenings and diagnostic testing beyond what you may have already had at your general dentist’s office. Although some of the equipment in your endodontist’s office may look complicated, it is highly advanced technology that helps ensure your treatment is effective and precise.
After you visit with your endodontist for the first time, you will be scheduled to return for treatment. Depending on the extent of your treatment, you may be anesthetized and sedated to ensure you are comfortable for the duration of your procedure.
Did you know…that an emergency root canal could be the most effective means of relieving sudden and seemingly unbearable tooth pain? Often, the tell-tale sign of an endodontic emergency is tooth pain that begins moderately and progresses to get much worse. Endodontic emergencies require immediate treatment from an endodontist who can make room for your emergency day or night.