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FAQ

What is a Root Canal Treatment?

A root canal treatment (RCT) is needed when the pulp (the soft tissue inside the tooth) becomes inflamed or infected as a result of injury, deep decay or repeated dental procedures or cracked tooth

What is the Purpose of Treatment?

If a diagnosis of one or more teeth has been made indicating that there is dead, infected or dying nerve tissue within a tooth, then root canal treatment (RCT) has been recommended in order to prevent the tooth from becoming a source of continued pain and/or infection. RCT involves cleaning out the inside nerve space of a tooth, enlarging this space, and finally filling the interior with a dense, non-irritating rubber material. This space is filled so that no irritants remain within the tooth. RCT may take between 1 and 4 visits to complete depending on the difficulty of the tooth and how quickly the infection resolves. Success of RCT also relies upon a person's immune system functioning well.

Benefit of Treatment:

RCT allows a person to keep a tooth that may otherwise need extraction due to the presence of infection within the tooth caused by a diseased nerve, or to help attach a complex crown to a badly broken down tooth. Loss of teeth may result in decreased ability to chew and speak as well as changes in appearance.

Alternatives to RCT:

No treatment of a diseased tooth may result in a continued or worsening infection/or pain, which can lead to destruction of bone around the tooth or spreading of infection throughout the jawbone or the tissues of the head and neck. The only alternative to RCT which relieves pain and of infection is the removal of the entire tooth (extraction).

After RCT:

Teeth usually require some kind of permanent restoration (cap or crown) following RCT. This restoration should be done after two weeks following RCT to avoid the tooth breaking.

These are possible complications, but rarely occurs when treated by an Endodontist who Specializes in Root Canal Treatments.

  1. Difficulty locating and working in all suspected canals
  2. Incomplete filling of all canals
  3. Perforation or penetration of the surrounding bone or tissue with RCT instruments
  4. Root canal instruments may separate (break) within canals
  5. Possible continued infection despite RCT
  6. Possible pain between appointments (called flair-ups) or pain following treatment
  7. Bad response of the patient's body to some materials used during treatment (allergic reactions) or continued rare "phantom pain" following treatment. Persistent numbness following treatment that in rare cases becomes permanent

If any of the above occurs, treatment may continue with the knowledge that a lesser prognosis is expected, or the tooth may be removed right away. A return of problems in the future may require retreatment or endodontic surgery.

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