Earning Your Trust with a Smile.

Root Canal Treatment

What is a root canal?

Many patients have asked the question, “What is a root canal?” and the companion question, “How do I know if I need a root canal?”  First, it is helpful to understand the basic layers of a tooth.  The outer shell of the tooth is enamel, and it is the strongest part of the tooth.  The middle layer is the dentin which provides a foundation and flexibility.  The inner area of the tooth is often referred to as the root canal space and pulp chamber.  It is the space where the pulp or the nerves and blood vessels reside.  In a healthy tooth these give vitality to the tooth and allow the tooth to feel hot and cold.  In a diseased tooth, the pain can come from the pulp as well as the bone surrounding a sick tooth.

What are common symptoms of a tooth that needs a root canal?

Teeth that need root canals are the result of a dead or necrotic pulp or the pulp tissue is so inflamed that it can’t get better.  Often teeth with a dead or necrotic pulp have no symptoms for a time.  At some point these teeth become painful to chewing, but are not sensitive to cold.  In contrast, an irreversibly inflamed pulp will be painful to cold with lingering symptoms usually longer than 10 seconds.  In both of these cases, the nerve or dead tissue need to be removed by root canal therapy.  The only other option is tooth extraction.

Many of these symptoms are avoidable and problems can be detected before the tooth needs a root canal.

When should I see an endodontist?

Root canal specialist, or endodontists are dentists who specialize in doing root canals.  Many general dentists perform routine root canals.  At Mangum Dental we refer the difficult teeth to the endodontist and give every patient the option to see a specialist if they prefer.  We confidently treat many root canals in our office if the patient wishes to have the treatment done with us.

What is a root canal re-treatment?

Some root canals fail.  The causes can range from extra canals, untreated canals, bacteria remaining in the root canal system, cracked teeth, failed restorations, and spontaneous root resorption. Although we work hard to treat teeth carefully and with precision, re-treatment  is common enough that there is a specific insurance code for root canal procedures that need to be redone, or root canal retreatment.  At Mangum Dental we send almost all of these to a specialist.

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