My Last Root Canal Was Years Ago. Has Anything Changed in the Procedure?

It’s been a long time since I discussed root canal treatments. Like all techniques in dentistry, we are striving to make things better for both the patient and the dentist. Therefore, I think that it’s time that we reviewed some of the concepts that are common to all root canals and what’s new in this exciting field today. All root canals have a common goal. The center of a tooth is filled with soft tissue, including blood vessels and nerves. This tissue is alive and this is what gives a tooth it’s feeling. This tissue’s initial function is to create a tooth as a baby or even before the baby is born. It also directs the shapeof the tooth’s hard structure. Once the tooth is formed, the soft tissue inside serves as a pain mechanism and warning system if the tooth is injured. It is also the source of a dental infection or abscess. This leads us to a specific treatmentchoice when this happens.

Without treatment, the infection will spread. Eventually, the tooth will become very painful and need extracting. Some patients may prefer to have the tooth pulled out, especially if it hurts a lot or if the tooth cannot be restored. This can happen if there is large decay, trauma, or loss of bone due to periodontal, or gum, disease. However, removing a tooth may mean that the surrounding teeth start to move and become crooked. This not only looks unsightly, but can make it hard to have a good bite.

If the tooth cannot be saved or a decision is made to remove the tooth, then we need to talk about replacement with an implant or bridge. In most cases, it is better to save the natural tooth if possible, because nothing functions as well as a natural tooth. Root canal therapy will usually save the tooth and eliminate the pain.

When the tissue becomes injured, it may create pain. This happens more often than not when we diagnose a tooth and determine the appropriate treatment as being a root canal procedure. Our task is then to clean out the damaged tissue and create a sealed sterile environment which will allow the tooth to remain in the mouth and function.

In the past and in many offices this was all done through the use of hand instruments. This was a long and tedious process requiring multiple visits. Today we use specialized instruments which clean the teeth very efficiently and gently in a matter of minutes, rather than hours. We use a single instrument to do what multiple instruments and tools did in the past. This alone is a time saver.

These new instruments were developed for single use, removing the risk of cross-contamination and dramatically reducing the potential for dangerous instrument breakage. These instruments are purchased exclusively in sterilized and sealed packages and are never used more than once. They are opened right before I use them just for that patient. This insures maximum efficiency and assurance that you will get the most leading edge treatment.

Once we are done cleaning the inside of the tooth, we need to disinfect the tooth and create an environment which can be closed off. The main aim of root canal therapy is the removal of microbial contaminants in conjunction with the total closure of the tooth. This way bacteria from the mouth will not be able to get back in and recontaminate the tooth. Root canal sealers along with the latest filling materials play a major role in achieving the three dimensional sealing of the tooth. New sealers help us fill the canals and accomplish this goal. These sealers are binding agents which are used to adapt the filling material to the interior of the tooth and to fill up the voids and gaps inside the tooth. Root canal sealers, although used only as an accessory material in the sealing of root canals, have been shown to influence the outcome of root canal treatment. A perfect combination of sealing ability and compatibility with the tooth is what an ideal root canal sealer should possess. We now offer our patients sealers which are state of the art and create a dense fill with no voids. This helps to ease pain from a tooth and allow the patient to get back to the business of chewing in no time at all.

The next time that you have a painful tooth, give me a call and we can discuss options and treatments for you. There are so many ways to save a tooth from extraction. This allows you to get back to your life and do all those activities that you enjoy without being troubled with mouth pain. Call me at 440.951.7856. I’m always happy to talk to you.

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