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What is Endodontic (Root Canal) Therapy?

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Endodontic (Root Canal) Therapy (RCT) is a common, nonsurgical procedure designed to removed inflamed and/or
infected pulpal tissue from the root canal system. Inflamed and infected pulpal tissue arise due to bacterial invasion, fractureand/or trauma to the tooth. Millions of teeth are treated via root canal therapy every year to relieve pain and promote healing of teeth.

The dental pulp is the innermost part of the tooth made up of blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue housed beneath the enamel and dentin. The pulp is instrumental in tooth root development and provides blood flow and sensation (i.e. vitality) to the tooth. Inflammation and infection of the pulp can occur due to trauma, tooth decay, cracks, chips or repeated dental procedures. 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.

Symptoms that mean you may need RCT:

  • Sensitivity to cold or hot sensations

  • Lingering sensitivity to cold or hot, even after the stimulus has been removed

  • Severe pain while chewing or biting

  • Pimple on the gums

  • A chipped or cracked tooth

  • Swollen or tender gums

  • Deep decay or darkening of the gum tissue

Endodontic Therapy involves local anesthesia and may be completed within 1-2 visits. When you undergo a root canal or other endodontic treatment, the inflamed or infected pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected, then filled and sealed with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha.  Success for this type of treatment occurs in about 90% of cases. If your tooth cannot be saved via endodontic therapy or the chance of success is unfavorable, you will be informed at the time of consultation or when a complication becomes evident during or after treatment.

There are many clinical reasons for needing root canal treatment, but there are also countless practical reasons why saving the natural tooth is a wise choice. Endodontic treatment helps you maintain your natural smile, continue eating the foods you love and limits the need for ongoing dental work. With proper care, most teeth that have had root canal treatment can last a lifetime.

What Happens After Endodontic (Root Canal) Therapy?

When your root canal therapy has been completed, a record of your treatment will be sent to your restorative dentist. You should contact your restorative dentist to schedule an appointment for a permanent restoration following root canal therapy within a few days. Your restorative dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth. Although it is rare to experience complications after endodontic therapy or microsurgery, if a problem should occur, we encourage you to contact our office as we are always available to respond. As always, continue to practice good dental hygiene to prevent further tooth decay.

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