Root canal treatments (endodontics) are usually done on teeth that are either dying or non-vital. Uncontrolled dental decay or trauma to the tooth is generally what necessitates this course of action. A variety of tests are routinely used to determine if a root canal treatment is needed to rescue the tooth. If the tooth goes untreated, the infection inside the tooth can eventually spread to other locations in the body via the blood stream.
A root canal treatment is the removal of the infection inside the tooth, contouring of the canals and filling them with sterile inert medicated material. At this point, the tooth, though non-vital, can function as a normal tooth, both mechanically and ascetically. Many root canal teeth are able to lend shared support for bridges or partials.
While a root canal treatment does not guarantee success, the over-all success rate is above 90%, and for teeth that are dead, dying or necrotic, root canal work is the only means of rescuing the tooth.
Pain and infection occasionally occur with endodontic treatment. In some cases, antibiotics will be prescribed automatically, whereas others may not be medicated unless the spread of infection becomes obvious. If the patient suffers from an elevated temperature, excess swelling around tooth, or aching joints, call the office for antibiotic therapy. Prescription pain medication is not required in most cases, but will be prescribed if over-the- counter pain relievers do not alleviate the discomfort and Dr. Clarks feels it is necessary.
Non-vital teeth, teeth with large fillings or teeth ravaged with decay become brittle over time. Post or pin supported core build-ups covered with a crown are often required to protect the tooth from fractures. Recent studies indicate that crown-protected root canal teeth survive 80% longer than root canal teeth that have no crowns. This is not surprising since crowns have much higher crushing strength of fillings.
Endodontically treated teeth are still susceptible to periodontal (gum) disease and dental caries (decay), so they need to be maintained, as a normal tooth would be: BRUSH AND FLOSS!!! The tooth will also need to be x-rayed periodically to establish that the root canal remaining successful.
If there are any problems call the office. If after office-hours care is needed, call Dr. Clark at his residence.
Dr. Guy C. Clark