Root Canals

Root Canal Treatment

At Mona Lisa Dental we utilize the latest in technology to enable us to perform your root canal comfortably and efficiently in one visit.
Your introduction to a root canal may have begun with a slight pain to cold which has been getting more constant over time and has now turned into a constant throbbing pain and you are now not able to bite down on the tooth or maybe a swelling suddenly appeared or the tooth has discolored. These symptoms are an indication that there has been an injury to the nerve of a tooth and that a root canal may be needed. Sometimes, however there are no symptoms.
The cause of pain in a tooth may vary and a complete exam needs to be done for proper diagnosis but causes can include: decay, cracked teeth and injury to the pulp or nerve of the tooth. Our teeth are composed of a hard outer layer called enamel, an intermediate layer called dentin which is softer than enamel and the inner layer called the dental pulp. The pulp is the soft tissue in the center of the tooth that contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue. It extends from the center of the tooth to the tip of the root located inside the bone of the jaws. When the pulp becomes infected, usually with bacteria from decay or a cracked tooth, the result is inflammation or death of the pulp causing pain. Left untreated the bacteria continue to advance to the root tip and can build up in the jaw bone causing a pocket of pus or an abscess. This can lead to severe swelling.
When the pulp becomes infected a root canal or root canal therapy is necessary to remove the infected pulp. Root canal therapy will save the tooth and prevent further pain and infection. Patients are frequently fearful of undergoing root canal therapy, but with modern techniques and local anesthetics there is no reason to be fearful as most patients report that they had a comfortable experience. Root canal therapy consists of removing all the infected pulp tissue. A space is created through the top of the tooth and the pulp chamber is accessed. The pulp chamber and root canals are then cleaned and reshaped using small files. They are decontaminated using solutions and then sealed with cement and a filling material which is usually gutta percha, a rubber like material. Today, most root canals can be completed in one visit. If severe infection is present your dentist may decide to complete the root canal in two visits. After root canal therapy there will be no more pain or sensation in the tooth because the nerve and infection have been removed.
For the first few days after treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive. This is usually the case if pain or infection was present before the procedure. This discomfort can be relieved with over-the-counter or prescription medications. In some cases your dentist may prescribe antibiotics. You should not chew or bite on the treated tooth as it is weak from being hollowed out until your dentist can restore the tooth and place a crown on the tooth. After the crown has been placed the tooth can function like any other tooth.
Most teeth that have been treated with root canal therapy can last as long as other natural teeth. In a few cases, a tooth that has had root canal therapy does not heal or the pain continues or the tooth may become painful or diseased months or years later after successful treatment. New trauma, deep decay, or a loose, cracked or broken crown can cause a new infection in your tooth. Sometimes an additional canal which could not be found is the cause of the new infection. In most cases redoing the endodontic procedure can save the tooth.
Most teeth can be saved with root canal therapy but some teeth can not be saved because the root canals cannot be accessed, the root is fractured or cracked, the tooth does not have adequate bone support, or the tooth cannot be restored due to a lack of tooth structure needed to hold a crown in place. In these cases the tooth can be extracted and an implant can be placed.
After successful root canal therapy it is important to remember that the tooth can still get decay so it is important to brush, floss and visit your dentist every 6 months for regular checkups and cleanings.