Root Canal Treatment

What's a root canal?

Root canal therapy, also known as endodontic treatment, is a dental procedure aimed at treating infection or damage within the central part of a tooth, known as the pulp. The pulp can become infected or inflamed due to deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, old crowns, or a crack or chip in the tooth. During root canal therapy, the infected or inflamed pulp is removed, and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected. Afterwards, it's filled and sealed with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. Finally, the tooth is restored with a crown  protection and will continue to function like any other tooth. Root canal therapy is crucial for preserving a tooth that might otherwise have to be removed completely. It relieves pain associated with pulp infection and helps prevent the spread of infection.

How easy is a root canal these days?

In this modern era, advancements in dental technology and techniques have made the root canal procedure considerably easier and more comfortable for patients. With the use of precision instruments and advanced imaging technologies, dentists can perform root canal therapy with minimal discomfort and high efficiency. Local anesthetics ensure the process is virtually pain-free, and the use of sedation dentistry can further alleviate anxiety and discomfort for patients. These improvements have not only shortened the duration of the procedure but also enhanced its success rate, making the prospect of undergoing a root canal far less daunting than it once was.

What are the main steps in a root canal treatment?

Diagnosis and X-ray: The dentist begins by taking X-rays to assess the extent of the infection and plan the procedure.
Anesthesia: Local anesthesia is administered to the affected area to numb the tooth and surrounding tissue, ensuring the patient feels no discomfort.
Pulp Removal: An access hole is drilled into the tooth to remove the infected or damaged pulp from the pulp chamber and root canals. Cleaning and Shaping: The empty root canals are meticulously cleaned and shaped using fine dental instruments to remove all bacteria and debris. This step may involve the use of antiseptic and antibacterial solutions. Filling: Once the canals are clean and dried, they are filled with gutta-percha, a rubber-like material, to seal them against future infection. An adhesive cement is used to ensure a complete seal.
Temporary Filling: A temporary filling material is often placed on top to seal the access hole until a permanent restoration (like a crown) can be placed. Restoration: In the final step, the tooth is restored with a permanent crown or a filling to regain its natural shape, appearance, and function. This step is crucial for protecting the tooth from future damage or infection and restoring its full use.
Aftercare is also an important aspect of the process, emphasizing the importance of maintaining oral hygiene and scheduling follow-up visits to ensure the healing process is progressing as expected.

3 types of root canal therapies


I was told that root canals are very painful?

Contrary to common misconceptions, modern root canal therapy is not a painful process. Advances in dental technology and anesthesia have significantly improved the comfort of the patient during the procedure. Most patients report that the experience is no more uncomfortable than having a filling placed. The pain often associated with root canals arises from the infection in the tooth rather than the treatment itself. The primary goal of root canal therapy is to relieve pain caused by the pulp infection or inflammation. Following the procedure, any discomfort typically experienced is usually mild and can be effectively managed with over-the-counter pain relief medications. The relief from pain felt after the infected or damaged pulp has been removed can often be profound, with many patients experiencing immediate improvement.

Which teeth are hard to do a root canal on?

Certain teeth pose more difficulty for root canal treatment due to their unique structures and locations in the mouth. Molars, especially the lower molars, are often considered the most challenging for root canal therapy. This complexity arises from the fact that molars typically have multiple roots and canals, some of which may be curved or have unusual configurations, making it harder for the dentist to clean and fill them effectively. Additionally, accessing the back of the mouth to reach these teeth can be more difficult, further complicating the procedure. Similarly, teeth with a history of extensive dental work or those that have undergone previous root canal treatments may present additional challenges, as scar tissue or restorative materials like crowns and bridges can limit access to the root canals.

I was told that my canals are calcified, what challenges that does pose?

Calcified canals significantly impact the complexity and approach of root canal therapy. Over time, the dental pulp within a tooth may undergo calcification, leading to a narrowing of the root canals. This process can occur due to factors such as age, trauma, or decay. Calcified canals present a challenge because they make the canals more difficult to locate, access, and clean thoroughly.
Additionally, the procedure may demand more time and precision to ensure that the entire canal system is adequately cleaned and sealed, which is crucial for preventing further infection and ensuring the long-term success of the root canal therapy.

Should I pass a root canal therapy and get a dental implant?

Dr. Rahimi strongly advises patients to consider root canal therapy as the preferred option over dental implants when facing the choice. His reasoning is grounded in the principle that preserving your natural teeth, along with their roots, is usually the best course of action. The natural root structure of a tooth plays a crucial role in maintaining oral health, offering unmatched stability and strength that synthetic alternatives cannot perfectly replicate. While dental implants are a highly effective solution for missing teeth, they are typically recommended only when saving the natural tooth is not feasible. Root canal therapy, on the other hand, can save a tooth that might seem beyond repair, allowing it to function normally for years to come. Dr. Rahimi emphasizes that maintaining your natural teeth whenever possible is beneficial, as nothing can truly substitute for your natural roots.

Do Dental Fillings Require Special Care or Maintenance?

Root canal therapy boasts a high success rate, with studies indicating that it is effective in saving and restoring teeth in approximately 90% to 95% of cases when performed correctly. The procedure is designed to eliminate bacteria from the infected root canal, prevent reinfection of the tooth, and preserve the natural tooth.  After the completion of the root canal treatment, a tooth can last a lifetime with proper care, including good oral hygiene practices and regular dental check-ups. If a root canal fails, there are still options available, such as retreatment or a dental implant, but these are considered only if necessary.

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