If your dentist or hygienist finds symptoms of endodontic (root canal) infection or inflammation, a consultation with an endodontist may be recommended.
However, a referral is not necessary for an endodontic consultation.
If you experience any of these signs
and symptoms, an endodontic consultation
Lingering pain to cold or hot
Pain during chewing
Before initiating dental treatment, Dr. Whitney will extensively examine the tooth or teeth, the gums, the hard tissues supporting the tooth and the general dental health. Once an accurate diagnosis has been made, he will review all treatment options with you along with their associated risks and benefits.
Root canal therapy is needed when the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay or infection. In order to save the tooth, the pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth), nerves, bacteria, and any decay are removed and the space is filled with special, medicated, dental materials, which restore the tooth to its full function.
Having a root canal done on a tooth is the treatment of choice to save a tooth that otherwise would die and have to be removed. Many patients believe that removing a tooth that has problems is the solution, but what is not realized is that extracting (pulling) a tooth will ultimately be more costly and cause significant problems for adjacent teeth. Reasons for root canal therapy:
Decay has reached the tooth pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth)
Infection or abscess have developed inside the tooth or at the root tip
Injury or trauma to the tooth
In rare cases, the treated tooth might not heal properly or a patient might experience post-surgical complications. Retreatment involves the removal of the crown and packing material, cleansing the root canals, and re-packing and re-crowning of the tooth.
Root canal treatments and re-treatments are a better alternative than extraction for most individuals. If a tooth has good bone support, a solid surface and healthy gums beneath it, it stands a good chance of being saved.
There are a number of reasons why root canal therapy unexpectedly fails, including:
Cracked crown leaking filling material
Curved/narrow canals not previously treated
Delay in the placement of restorative devices
New decay to the tooth
New fracture in the treated tooth
Saliva entering the restorative structure
Undetected complex canal structures
Your teeth are held firmly in place by strong roots that extend into the jawbone. Molars and premolars tend to have several roots, whereas the front incisors only have a single root. The end or tip of each root is termed the apex. The apex is where the nerves and blood vessels enter the tooth, and aids in the delivery of blood to the crown (the part of the tooth you can see in your mouth).
A root canal treatment refers to the cleaning of the canals and the removal of infected and inflamed tissue within the root. When the inflammation or infection persists after the root canal treatment, an apicoectomy may be required. An apicoectomy is essentially the removal of the apex (or root tip), followed by a filling procedure to seal the root from further infection. When left untreated, infected roots can damage other teeth, spread infection, and cause regression of the jawbone.
Root amputation is a specialized dental procedure, whereby one root is removed from a multi-root tooth. The tooth is then stabilized and rendered fully functional with a crown or filling. The multi-root teeth best suited to the root amputation procedure are the molars at the back of the mouth. These large flat teeth have 2-3 roots depending on whether they are situated on the upper or lower jaw.
The general purpose of root amputation is to save an injured or diseased tooth. Most dentists agree that there is no better alternative than retaining a healthy natural tooth, and the root amputation procedure makes this possible. Generally, root amputation and crown are less expensive and can be completed in 1-3 short visits.
When is root amputation necessary?
It is important to note that root amputation can only be performed on an otherwise healthy tooth. Even in the case of a “key” tooth, extraction will be performed if the tooth is diseased, badly fractured or otherwise injured. Suitable teeth for root amputation have a healthy tooth surface, strong bone support and healthy underlying gums.
Cracked and fractured teeth are common dental problems. As people retain their natural teeth longer (due to advances in dental technology), the likelihood of cracked teeth increases. There are many reasons why teeth may crack, for example, biting on hard objects, trauma, grinding and clenching of teeth. All of these behaviors place the teeth under strain and render them more susceptible to cracking.
When tooth enamel is cracked, pain can become momentarily debilitating. When no pressure is exerted on the crack there may be no discomfort. However, as the cracked tooth performs a biting action, the crack widens. The pulp and inner workings of the tooth then become exposed, and painful irritation occurs. As pressure is released again, the two parts of the crack fuse back together, and pain subsides. If left untreated, the pulp becomes irreversibly damaged and constantly painful. The resulting pulp infection can affect the bone and soft tissue surrounding the tooth.
Symptoms of a cracked tooth may include:
Unexplained pain when eating.
Sensitivity to warm and cold foods.
Pain with no obvious cause.
Difficulty pinpointing the location of the pain.