Emergency Dental Services

 

Root Canals-Endodontic Treatment


Root Canals-Endodontic Treatment Santa Barbara Dental Spa

“Endo” is the Greek word for “inside” and “odont” is Greek for “tooth.” Endodontic treatment treats the inside of the tooth. Root canal treatment is one type of endodontic treatment. 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 creates the surrounding hard tissues of the tooth during development.

The pulp extends from the crown of the tooth to the tip of the roots where it connects to the tissues surrounding the root. The pulp 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.

What are the signs of needing a Root Canal?

Signs to look for include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, tenderness to touch and chewing, discoloration of the tooth, and swelling, drainage and tenderness in the lymph nodes as well as nearby bone and gum tissues. Sometimes, however, there are no symptoms.

Why would I need an endodontic procedure?

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

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What are the signs of needing endodontic treatment?

Signs to look for include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, tenderness to touch and chewing, discoloration of the tooth, and swelling, drainage and tenderness in the lymph nodes as well as nearby bone and gum tissues. Sometimes, however, there are no symptoms.

How does endodontic treatment save the tooth?

The endodontist removes the inflamed or infected pulp, carefully cleans and shapes the inside of the root canal, then fills and seals the space. Afterwards, you will return to your dentist, who will place a crown or other restoration on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function. After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth.

Will I feel pain during or after the procedure?

Many endodontic procedures are performed to relieve the pain of toothaches caused by pulp inflammation or infection. With modern techniques and anesthetics, most patients report that they are comfortable during the procedure.

For the first few days after treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. This discomfort can be relieved with over-the-counter or prescription medications. Follow your endodontist’s instructions carefully.

Your tooth may continue to feel slightly different from your other teeth for some time after your endodontic treatment is completed. However, if you have severe pain or pressure or pain that lasts more than a few days, call your endodontist.

Step-by-Step Endodontic Procedure

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Endodontic treatment can often be performed in one or two visits and involves the following steps:

  • The endodontist examines and x-rays the tooth, then administers local anesthetic. After the tooth is numb, the endodontist places a small protective sheet called a “dental dam” over the area to isolate the tooth and keep it clean and free of saliva during the procedure
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  • The endodontist makes an opening in the crown of the tooth. Very small instruments are used to clean the pulp from the pulp chamber and root canals and to shape the space for filling. 
  • After the space is cleaned and shaped, the endodontist fills the root canals with a biocompatible material, usually a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. The gutta-percha is placed with an adhesive cement to ensure complete sealing of the root canals. In most cases, a temporary filling is placed to close the opening. The temporary filling will be removed by your dentist before the tooth is restored.
  • After the final visit with your endodontist, you must return to your dentist to have a crown or other restoration placed on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function.
  • If the tooth lacks sufficient structure to hold the restoration in place, your dentist or endodontist may place a post inside the tooth. Ask your dentist or endodontist for more details about the specific restoration planned for your tooth.

How much will the procedure cost?

The cost varies depending on how complex the problem is and which tooth is affected. Molars are more difficult to treat; the fee is usually more. Most dental insurance policies provide some coverage for endodontic treatment.

Generally, endodontic treatment and restoration of the natural tooth are less expensive than the alternative of having the tooth extracted. An extracted tooth must be replaced with an implant or bridge to restore chewing function and prevent adjacent teeth from shifting. These procedures tend to cost more than endodontic treatment and appropriate restoration.

Will the tooth need any special care or additional treatment after endodontic treatment

You should not chew or bite on the treated tooth until you have had it restored by your dentist. The unrestored tooth is susceptible to fracture, so you should see your dentist for a full restoration as soon as possible. Otherwise, you need only practice good oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and regular checkups and cleanings.

Most endodontically treated teeth last other natural teeth. In a few cases, a tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment does not heal or the pain continues. Occasionally, the tooth may become painful or diseased months or even years after successful treatment. Often when this occurs, redoing the endodontic procedure can save the tooth.

What causes an endodontically treated tooth to need additional treatment?

New trauma, deep decay, or a loose, cracked or broken filling can cause new infection in your tooth. In some cases, the endodontist may discover additional very narrow or curved canals that could not be treated during the initial procedure.

Can all teeth be treated endodontically?

Most teeth can be treated. Occasionally, a tooth can’t be saved because the root canals are not accessible, the root is severely fractured, the tooth doesn’t have adequate bone support, or the tooth cannot be restored. However, advances in endodontics are making it possible to save teeth that even a few years ago would have been lost. When endodontic treatment is not effective, endodontic surgery may be able to save the tooth.

 

Tooth Extractions


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Tooth extraction is the removal of a tooth from its socket in the bone. If a tooth has been broken or damaged by decay, your dentist will try to fix it with a filling, crown or other treatment. Sometimes, though, there's too much damage for the tooth to be repaired. In this case, the tooth needs to be extracted. A very loose tooth also will require extraction if it can't be saved, even with bone replacement surgery (bone graft).

Here are other reasons:

  • Some people have extra teeth that block other teeth from coming in.
  • Sometimes baby teeth don't fall out in time to allow the permanent teeth to come in.
  • People getting braces may need teeth extracted to create room for the teeth that are being moved into place.
  • People receiving radiation to the head and neck may need to have teeth in the field of radiation extracted.
  • People receiving cancer drugs may develop infected teeth because these drugs weaken the immune system. Infected teeth may need to be extracted.
  • Some teeth may need to be extracted if they could become a source of infection after an organ transplant. People with organ transplants have a high risk of infection because they must take drugs that decrease or suppress the immune system.
  • Wisdom teeth, also called third molars, are often extracted either before or after they come in. They commonly come in during the late teens or early 20s. They need to be removed if they are decayed, cause pain or have a cyst or infection. These teeth often get stuck in the jaw (impacted) and do not come in. This can irritate the gum, causing pain and swelling. In this case, the tooth must be removed. If you need all four wisdom teeth removed, they are usually taken out at the same time.

If you expect to have treatment with intravenous drugs called bisphosphonates for a medical condition, be sure to see your dentist first. If any teeth need to be extracted, this should be done before your drug treatment begins. Having a tooth extraction after bisphosphonate treatment increases the risk of osteonecrosis (death of bone) in the jaw.

Preparation

Your dentist or oral surgeon will take an X-ray of the area to help plan the best way to remove the tooth. Be sure to provide your full medical and dental history and a list of all medicines you take. This should include both prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and supplements.

If you are having wisdom teeth removed, you may have a panoramic X-ray. This X-ray takes a picture of all of your teeth at once. It can show several things that help to guide an extraction:

  • The relationship of your wisdom teeth to your other teeth
  • The upper teeth's relationship to your sinuses
  • The lower teeth's relationship to a nerve in the jawbone that gives feeling to your lower jaw, lower teeth, lower lip and chin. This nerve is called the inferior alveolar nerve.
  • Any infections, tumors or bone disease that may be present

Some doctors prescribe antibiotics to be taken before and after surgery. This practice varies by the dentist or oral surgeon. Antibiotics are more likely to be given if:

  • You have infection at the time of surgery
  • You have a weakened immune system
  • You will have a long surgery
  • You have specific medical conditions

You may have intravenous (IV) anesthesia, which can range from conscious sedation to general anesthesia. If so, your doctor will have you instructions to follow. You should wear clothing with short sleeves or sleeves that can be rolled up easily. This allows access for an IV line to be placed in a vein. Don't eat or drink anything for six or eight hours before the procedure.

If you have a cough, stuffy nose or cold up to a week before the surgery, call your doctor. He or she may want to avoid anesthesia until you are over the cold. If you had nausea and vomiting the night before the procedure, call the doctor's office first thing in the morning. You may need a change in the planned anesthesia or the extraction may have to be rescheduled.

Do not smoke on the day of surgery. This can increase the risk of a painful problem called dry socket.

After the extraction, someone will need to drive you home and stay there with you. You will be given post-surgery instructions. It is very important that you follow them.

How It's Done

There are two types of extractions:

  • Most simple extractions can be done using just an injection (a local anesthetic). You may or may not receive drugs to help you relax. For a surgical extraction, you will receive a local anesthetic, and you may also have anesthesia through a vein (intravenous). Some people may need general anesthesia. They include patients with specific medical or behavioral conditions and young children.
  • If you are receiving conscious sedation, you may be given steroids as well as other medicines in your IV line. The steroids help to reduce swelling and keep you pain-free after the procedure.

During a tooth extraction, you can expect to feel pressure, but no pain. If you feel any pain or pinching, tell your doctor.

Follow-Up

Your doctor will give you detailed instructions on what to do and what to expect after your surgery. If you have any questions, make sure to ask them before you leave the office.

Having a tooth taken out is surgery. You can expect some discomfort after even simple extractions. Usually it is mild. Research has shown that taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can greatly decrease pain after a tooth extraction. These drugs include ibuprofen, such as Advil, Motrin and others. Take the dose your doctor recommends, 3 to 4 times a day. Take the first pills before the local anesthesia wears off. Continue taking them for 3 days. Ask your doctor for complete instructions.

Surgical extractions generally cause more pain after the procedure than simple extractions. The level of discomfort and how long it lasts will depend on how difficult it was to remove the tooth. Your dentist may prescribe pain medicine for a few days and then suggest an NSAID. Most pain disappears after a couple of days.

A cut in the mouth tends to bleed more than a cut on the skin because it cannot dry out and form a scab. After an extraction, you'll be asked to bite on a piece of gauze for 20 to 30 minutes. This pressure will allow the blood to clot. You will still have a small amount of bleeding for the next 24 hours or so. It should taper off after that. Don't disturb the clot that forms on the wound.

You can put ice packs on your face to reduce swelling. Typically, they are left on for 20 minutes at a time and removed for 20 minutes. If your jaw is sore and stiff after the swelling goes away, try warm compresses.

Eat soft and cool foods for a few days. Then try other food as you feel comfortable.

A gentle rinse with warm salt water, started 24 hours after the surgery, can help to keep the area clean. Use one-half teaspoon of salt in a cup of water. Most swelling and bleeding end within a day or two after the surgery. Initial healing takes at least two weeks.

If you need stitches, your doctor may use the kind that dissolve on their own. This usually takes one to two weeks. Rinsing with warm salt water will help the stitches to dissolve. Some stitches need to be removed by the dentist or surgeon

You should not smoke, use a straw or spit after surgery. These actions can pull the blood clot out of the hole where the tooth was. Do not smoke on the day of surgery. Do not smoke for 24 to 72 hours after having a tooth extracted.

Risks

A problem called a dry socket develops in about 3% to 4% of all extractions. This occurs when a blood clot doesn't form in the hole or the blood clot breaks off or breaks down too early.

In a dry socket, the underlying bone is exposed to air and food. This can be very painful and can cause a bad odor. Typically dry sockets begin to cause pain the third day after surgery.

Dry socket occurs up to 30% of the time when impacted teeth are removed. It is also more likely after difficult extractions. Smokers and women who take birth control pills are more likely to have a dry socket. Smoking on the day of surgery further increases the risk. A dry socket needs to be treated with a medicated dressing to stop the pain and encourage the area to heal.

Infection can set in after an extraction. However, you probably won't get an infection if you have a healthy immune system.

Other potential problems include:

  • Accidental damage to nearby teeth, such as fracture of fillings or teeth 
  • An incomplete extraction, in which a tooth root remains in the jaw — Your dentist usually removes the root to prevent infection, but occasionally it is less risky to leave a small root tip in place. 
  • A fractured jaw caused by the pressure put on the jaw during extraction — This occurs more often in older people with osteoporosis (thinning) of the jaw bone. 
  • A hole in the sinus during removal of an upper back tooth (molar) — A small hole usually will close up by itself in a few weeks. If not, more surgery may be required. 
  • Soreness in the jaw muscles and/or jaw joint — It may be tough for you to open your mouth wide. This can happen because of the injections, keeping your mouth open and/or lots of pushing on your jaw. 
  • Long-lasting numbness in the lower lip and chin — This is an uncommon problem. It is caused by injury to the inferior alveolar nerve in your lower jaw. Complete healing may take three to six months. In rare cases, the numbness may be permanent.
 

Temporization of Teeth


This is sometimes necessary to preserve occlusal relationships, prevent sensitivity or maintain esthetics. Clinical time spent with the patient is minimized by fabricating a matrix on a diagnostic cast prior to the preparation/ impression appointment.

Accidental damage to nearby teeth, such as fracture of fillings or teeth

An incomplete extraction, in which a tooth root remains in the jaw — Your dentist usually removes the root to prevent infection, but occasionally it is less risky to leave a small root tip in place.

A fractured jaw caused by the pressure put on the jaw during extraction — This occurs more often in older people with osteoporosis (thinning) of the jaw bone.

A hole in the sinus during removal of an upper back tooth (molar) — A small hole usually will by itself in a few weeks. If not, more surgery may be required.

Soreness in the jaw muscles and/or jaw joint — It may be tough for you to open your mouth wide. This can happen because of the injections, keeping your mouth open and/or lots of pushing on your jaw.

Long-lasting numbness in the lower lip and chin — This is an uncommon problem. It is caused by injury to the inferior alveolar nerve in your lower jaw. Complete healing may take three to six months. In rare cases, the numbness may be permanent.

A simple extraction is performed on a tooth that can be seen in the mouth. General dentists commonly do simple extractions. In a simple extraction, the dentist loosens the tooth with an instrument called an elevator. Then the dentist uses an instrument called a forceps to remove the tooth.

A surgical extraction is a more complex procedure. It is used if a tooth may have broken off at the gum line or has not come into the mouth yet. Surgical extractions commonly are done by oral surgeons. However, they are also done by general dentists. The doctor makes a small incision (cut) into your gum. Sometimes it's necessary to remove some of the bone around the tooth or to cut the tooth in half in order to extract it.

Dr. Rai and his staff provide gentle and professional care every time I visit. I have been a patient at Santa Barbara Dental Spa for 3 years. The office is very clean and inviting. I love my hygenist, she is always extremely gentle and provides a pleasant atmosphere that takes the edge off of being at the dentist. Dr. Rai has filled a few cavities for me and has done excellent work everytime, and is always very polite and friendly. I have always felt safe and cared for during eacy and every one of my procedures here. Easy location and parking too, which is a plus in Santa Barbara!
Stephanie M. - Atascadero, CA

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