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Endodontic treatment, more commonly known as root canal therapy, is necessary when the pulp of your tooth becomes inflamed or infected.
The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes such as deep decay, repeated dental procedures on your tooth, or a crack or chip in the tooth. With proper care, an endodontically treated tooth will function normally for years to come.
Root Canal Procedure
How is a root canal performed? If you experience any of the symptoms described above, non-surgical treatment to eliminate the diseased pulp may be recommended. This injured pulp is removed, and the root canal system is thoroughly cleaned and sealed. This therapy usually involves local anesthesia and may be completed in one or more visits depending on the treatment required. While the treatment is painless and has a 90% success rate, if your tooth is not amenable to endodontic treatment, or the chance of success is unfavorable, you will be informed at the time of consultation or when a complication becomes evident during or after treatment. We use local anesthesia to eliminate discomfort, and we can provide nitrous oxide analgesia if it’s indicated. You will be able to drive home after your treatment, and you probably will be comfortable returning to your normal routine. With today’s latest technologies and anesthetics, root canal treatment is no more uncomfortable than having a filling placed.
Alternatives to Root Canals
The first thing to take into consideration if you’re considering a root canal is your overall health. If you have a strong immune system and no health problems, root canal treatment might be acceptable. As an alternative, however, you may choose to have the tooth removed. In this case maintenance for arch integrity may be required, unless the tooth is, for example, a back molar with no teeth opposing it. In this case, there’s no arch issue and no reason to replace it. Most teeth must be replaced, however, and a fixed bridge is an option. This means the teeth on each side of a missing tooth are covered with crowns and a fake tooth fills – or bridges – the gap.
A dental implant is also a smart root canal alternative in some cases. Zirconia implants are nonmetallic, but a lot of bone is lost and the surgeries required often interfere with the sinuses. Titanium implants may be preferable because they integrate better and are smaller, requiring less bone loss to set.
Another alternative is a removable bridge, which is the most economical root canal alternative, but taking such a bridge in and out can be a hassle.