When a patient gets a toothache or has a deep cavity often times the nerve in the tooth has been affected. Inside the tooth is a fine space called the root canal. The root canal contains the dental pulp (nerve). If the dental pulp becomes diseased or dies, a toothache or an abscess may occur. In the past these problem teeth were extracted but now Dr. Carpenter can offer you root canal treatment to care for these teeth.
Local anesthetic, relaxing gas and modern painkillers are used to provide comfortable treatment. Usually painful symptoms improve once treatment is started. It is very important that any restoration adequately seals the root filling from infection by bacteria from the mouth. Teeth requiring root canal treatment often have large fillings or extensive damage and will require a crown to restore them properly. These teeth are also weaker and the added protection of a crown is recommended.
If the root canals are able to be fully cleaned and sealed and the tooth properly restored then treatment has a very high success rate. The treatment may take several visits to complete with temporary fillings and dressings placed in the tooth between visits. Antibiotics are sometimes prescribed when an infection is present.
Because the root canals are very fine and curved in some teeth it may be difficult to clean the canals completely. Occasionally a piece of a file may break off in the root canal due to the strain placed on these fine instruments. Sometimes these are retrievable but they may also be sealed in the root canal as part of the filling. Pain or discomfort may occur between appointments due to ongoing tenderness of the tissues around the tooth or a flare up of an abscess, or a hair-line crack in the root. An abscess or ongoing pain will rarely persist following root canal treatment. If this occurs the tooth will require some further treatment. Occasionally a surgical procedure may be required if discomfort persists. The alternatives to root canal treatment are implants or extraction followed by bridgework.
At times if a root canal procedure appears difficult or very advanced Dr. Carpenter will refer the patient to a root canal specialist.