Endodontics - Root Canals
Root Canals at Dental Care Providers of America

Your teeth are meant to last your lifetime. Years ago, diseased or injured teeth were usually pulled. Today a tooth can often be saved through root canal (endodontic) treatment. Endodontics (from the Greek roots endo- "inside" and odont- "tooth") is the dental specialty concerned with the study and treatment of the dental pulp. Endodontics include procedures including endodontic therapy (or "root canal therapy"), endodontic retreatment, surgery, treating cracked teeth, and treating dental trauma.

The pulp is soft tissue inside the tooth that contains blood vessels and nerves. When the pulp becomes inflamed or infected, treatment is needed. The most common causes of pulp inflammation or infection are a cracked or chipped tooth, a deep cavity or filling, or other serious injury to the tooth. All of these can allow bacteria to enter the pulp.

If damaged or infected pulp is not removed, the tissues around the root of the tooth can become infected. Pain and swelling often result. Even if there is no pain, bacteria can damage the bone that holds the tooth in the jaw. Without treatment, the tooth may have to be removed or the disease may spread.

When a tooth is removed and not replaced, the teeth around it may shift. This can make biting and chewing difficult and may make it harder to clean your teeth. Areas that are not cleaned well are more likely to get gum disease.

Root canal treatment can prevent these problems by saving your natural tooth. Also, root canal treatment is usually less expensive than a replacement tooth.

Root canal treatment may involve one or more dental visits. Your dentist will perform the necessary steps to save your tooth:

  • First, your tooth is numbed for your comfort. A thin sheet of latex rubber is placed over your tooth to keep it dry. An opening is made through the crown of the tooth into the pulp chamber.
  • The tooth's nerve or pulp is removed from the pulp chamber and root canal (the space inside the root). Each root canal is cleaned and shaped so it can be filled.
  • Medicine may be placed in the pulp chamber and root canal to help get rid of bacteria.
  • The root canal(s) are then usually filled with a rubber-like material to seal them.
  • A temporary filling is then placed in the tooth to prevent contamination of the root canals. You might be given antibiotics if the infection has spread beyond the end of the root(s).If you have any problems with the medicine, call your dentist.
  • During the next stage of treatment, the dentist removes the temporary filling and restores the tooth with a crown or a filling to strengthen it and improve the way it looks.

When properly restored, a tooth with a root canal filling can last for many years. But, like any other tooth, it can become decayed or fractured or the tissue around it can get gum disease. Daily cleanings and regular dental exams will help keep your mouth healthy, whether you've had root canal treatment or not.

Call Dental Care Providers to schedule an exam or a free consultation at a location convenient to you.