About Endodontics

Endo is the Greek word for “inside” and odont is Greek for “tooth.” Naturally then, Endodontists focus their treatments on the inside of the tooth. Nothing is as good as a natural tooth! And sometimes your natural tooth may need root canal (endodontic) treatment for it to remain a healthy part of your mouth.

About Endodontic Treatment

Most patients report that having root canal treatment today is as unremarkable as having a cavity filled.

To understand endodontic treatment it helps to know something about the anatomy of the tooth. Inside the tooth, under the white enamel and a hard layer called the dentin, is a soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue, and it creates the surrounding hard tissues of the tooth during development. It extends from the crown of the tooth to the tip of the roots where it connects to the surroudning tissue. During the tooth's growth and development the pulp is very important. 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.

Illustration of the steps in a root canal

Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes: deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, a crack or chip in the tooth, and so on. 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 even lead to an abscess.

If you're concerned about damage to your pulp, possible signs to look for include: pain; prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold; tenderness to touch and chewing; discoloration of the tooth; and swelling, drainage, or tenderness in the lymph nodes, as well in nearby bone and gingival tissue. Sometimes, however, there are no symptoms.

One-Visit Root Canals

A root canal is one of the most common dental procedures performed; well over 14 million every year. This simple treatment can save your natural teeth and prevent the need for dental implants or bridges.

Root Canal Treatment

If necessary, your dentist will most likely recommend non-surgical treatment to eliminate the diseased pulp. This injured pulp is removed, and the root canal system is thoroughly cleaned and sealed. This therapy usually involves local anesthesia to eliminate discomfort (or nitrous oxide analgesia can be provided if indicated), and it may be completed in just one visit, though sometimes more are necessary depending on the exact treatment required. Success occurs in about 90% of cases. If your tooth is not amenable to endodontic treatment 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. You will be able to drive home after your treatment, and you probably will be comfortable returning to your normal routine.

After root canal therapy comes a process known as restoration. It's done as a follow-up a few weeks after completion of the root canal, and its purpose is to provide long term protection to the treated tooth. You and your restorative dentist will decide on what type of restoration best protects your tooth.

It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine endodontic treatment or microsurgery. If a problem does occur however, we are available at all times to respond. To prevent further decay, continue to practice good dental hygiene.

Cracked Teeth

Cracked teeth demonstrate many types of symptoms, including pain when chewing, temperature sensitivities, or even pain with the release of biting pressure. It is also common for pain to come and go, making it difficult to diagnose the cause of discomfort.

About Cracked Teeth

Chewing can cause movement of the cracked pieces of your tooth, and the pulp within the tooth becomes irritated. At the same time, when biting pressure is released the crack can close quickly, resulting in sharp pain. Eventually the pulp will become damaged and the tooth will consistently hurt, even when you are not chewing. It is possible that cracks can lead to infection of the pulp tissue, which can spread to the bone and gum surrounding the problematic tooth.

Types of Cracks

Craze Lines

These are tiny cracks that only affect the outer enamel of the tooth. They are more common in adults. Almost always they are superficial and usually of no concern.

Fractured Cusp

When a cusp becomes weakened a fracture may result. The cusp may break off or be removed by a dentist. A fractured cusp rarely damages the pulp, so a root canal is typically not necessary. Your dentist can restore the tooth with a full crown.

Cracked Tooth

This type of crack extends from the chewing surface of the tooth and vertically migrates toward the root. In some cases the crack may extend below the gumline, further into the root. Damage to the pulp is commonplace. In this case a root canal treatment is usually necessary. A cracked tooth that is not treated will worsen, resulting in the loss of the tooth. Therefore, early detection is essential.

Split Tooth

A split tooth is usually the result of an untreated cracked tooth. It can be identified by a crack with distinct segments. This type of tooth can never be saved intact, but the position and extent of the problem will dictate whether any portion of the tooth can be saved. Sometimes endodontic treatment and restoration allows a portion of the tooth to be retained.

Vertical Root Fracture

A vertical root fracture begins at the root and extends towards the chewing surface of the tooth. Unfortunately, they show minimal symptoms and may go unnoticed. Treatment involves endodontic surgery if a portion of the tooth can be saved by removal of the fractured root. Otherwise the tooth will have to be extracted.