Root Canal Treatment

Root canal treatment is a common dental procedure performed by dentists and endodontists in order to retain a natural tooth, which would otherwise require extraction. The root canal of a tooth is the hollow space in the center of the tooth and root(s), which contains the soft dental pulp (ie. “the nerve”). This tissue is important during a tooth’s growth and development. However, once a tooth is fully mature, it can survive without the pulp, because the tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it.

Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. Common causes of these are: deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, trauma, or a crack or chip in the tooth. Root canal treatment involves the removal of the inflamed or infected tissue. After the root canals are cleaned, shaped, and disinfected, they are filled with a biocompatible material. Eventually, permanent filling material or crown will need to be placed to protect the tooth.

Root Canal Retreatment

Generally, teeth that have undergone endodontic treatment will provide years of service. Most often, these teeth will last as long as other natural teeth. However, as occasionally happens with any dental or medical procedure, a tooth many not heal as expected after initial treatment. Possible reasons for this include: complicated root canal anatomy which went undetected in the first procedure, the placement of the permanent restoration or crown was delayed following the endodontic treatment, the permanent restoration did not prevent salivary contamination to the inside of the tooth, new decay or a fracture of the tooth and/or root(s).

Endodontic retreatment consists of reopening the tooth to gain access to the root canal filling material. After removing the canal filling, the canals are cleaned and sometimes medication is places to enhance disinfection. Ultimately, the root canals are refilled and the tooth is sealed.

Endodontic Surgery

Usually, standard root canal treatment and possibly retreatment is sufficient to address the dental problems associated with the root canal tissue and supporting structures. Occasionally, an endodontic surgical procedure may be necessary to save the tooth from extraction due to a persistent infection.

Endodontic surgery involves opening the gum tissue near the tooth and removing inflamed or infected tissue associated with the root(s). Sometimes part or all of the root is also removed. The flap of gum tissue is replaced with a few stitches or sutures.