To all of those who read this newsletter, thank you. I hope you find this monthly newsletter educational and interesting; perhaps it may even answer some questions about oral health that you may have been pondering. If you have any dental questions or topics you would like me to write about, please let me know!
A root canal is a common dental procedure in which the pulp of a tooth is removed. Pulp is the nerve and blood vessel in the center of a tooth that extends down the root and allows the tooth to feel sensations such as heat, cold, and pain. A tooth may need a root canal because a deep cavity has reached the pulp, a crack may have propagated into the pulp and irritated the nerve, or an abscess may have formed on the root of the tooth. Once the pulp is removed, the tooth is then irrigated with an antiseptic rinse and the root space is filled with a rubbery biocompatible sealer called gutta percha.
There are several symptoms exhibited by teeth that need a root canal. These symptoms may include: severe pain that wakes the patient up in their sleep, intense and long lasting pain to either heat or cold on a specific tooth, pulsing or throbbing constant pain, or pain when chewing on a specific tooth. In addition to x-rays, thermal and percussion tests can be performed by your dentist to determine if the pulp of a tooth is compromised enough for the tooth needs a root canal.
It is a common misconception that root canals are always a painful procedure, and they are falsely portrayed in pop culture as a torturous event. At the start of the procedure the tooth is numbed with local anesthetic and the procedure is not much different from a filling. Root canals may need to be completed in two visits if an abscess is present. At the first visit, the canals are filled with a medicine that kills the bacteria present in the abscess. At the second visit, the medicine is cleaned out and the root is filled with biocompatible sealer.
Peer-reviewed meta-analysis of hundreds of studies has shown that root canals are a safe and effective way to treat infected teeth and no systemic complications have been proven to be caused by root canals. However, it is worth noting that root canal treated teeth are not without their own set of complications. The main complication with root canal treated teeth is that they make teeth more fragile and susceptible to root fractures. For this reason, all premolars and molars with a root canal must be covered with a crown to prevent a catastrophic fracture of the tooth. In addition, root canal treated teeth may develop a recurring abscess and the root canal may need to be retreated.
If you or your loved ones are experiencing any tooth pain, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Krist or I and we will get you in as soon as possible. Due to the acute nature of tooth pain, it is typical to have a root canal completed the same day the problem is diagnosed and patients typically experience immediate pain relief. Although we do not complete root canals in our office, we diagnose the need for them every week and have a great referral network of highly trained endodontists in Tampa.
Dr. John Obeck