Endodontics (Root Canal Therapy) in Spring Branch & Memorial, Houston, TX

What is Endodontics?

Endodontics is a branch of dentistry which deals with operations that are performed inside a tooth. “Endo” means “inside” and ‘dontics’ means concerning teeth. One of the main endodontic operations is the opening, cleaning,  filling, and sealing of the interior of the tooth, or the root canal. This procedure is called a root canal treatment.

The Root Canal

The root of the tooth, that is the part inside the gum, is elongated and has a chamber or canal running along the length to the apex (the pointed end of the root). While the exterior of the tooth crown and roots are made of the hard enamel and cementum respectively, the root canal is filled with soft pulp primarily containing blood vessels, and nerve tissue. That is why the root canal is also called the pulp chamber. The blood vessels supply the tooth during the growth period and keep the tooth alive with nutrients once the growth is completed.

Infection of the Root Canal

Once the pulp gets infected, there is a severe toothache which usually goes away after taking pain medication. At this stage, the situation is reversible and can be easily treated with cavity fillings. However, if the condition is left untreated, the pulp inflammation becomes irreversible and now it must be treated with a root canal therapy.

A toothache is basically felt as a result of pulp inflammation is due to a build-up of severe pressure in the pulp chamber which tends to stimulate the nerve endings inside the pulp causing pain. In such cases, we will perform root-canal treatment, to avoid tooth extraction.

When is a Root canal therapy Needed?

A root canal therapy procedure is required when the pulp inside the tooth gets inflamed. At Lifeworks Dental, a root canal procedure is usually performed to treat pulp inflammation in the following cases:

  • Untreated, long-standing teeth cavities
  • Direct exposure of pulp to the oral environment due to trauma
  • Tooth erosion
  • Gradual tooth abfraction due to habit of excessive tooth grinding or clenching
  • Spontaneous fracture of a heavily restored tooth.

Root canal therapy– How is it Performed?

Following steps are involved in a root canal procedure, which is usually completed in 1-2 sittings.

  • X-Ray image– The procedure starts with an x-ray examination of the inside of the tooth. This will help our dentists visualize the anatomy of the root canal, the extent of infection, and the number of roots.
  • Anesthesia – Since root canal therapy is a micro-surgical procedure, we will use local anesthesia to avoid pain during your treatment, and to make you comfortable.
  • Opening the root canal – in the next step, we will clean the cavity and drill through the tooth to expose the pulp chamber. Once the pulp chamber is open, it will be widened just enough to allow passage of endodontic instruments.
  • Cleaning– next, we will remove the infected pulp by using special endodontic instruments and thoroughly clean the root canal of any debris and remnants of the tissue. We will wash the canal and then dry it completely before the next step.
  • Filling the canal– The cleaned and dried canal will then be filled with an inert material called gutta percha. This is done to create a seal which prevents re-infection in future. A temporary filling is placed over the tooth to seal it, and you will be sent home.
  • Observation and permanent Filling– During your next appointment, we will assess the extent of healing. If sufficient healing has occurred, the temporary filling will be removed and replaced with a permanent one.

While in most cases root canal treatment is performed in multiple steps, especially for teeth having multiple roots, our dentists sometimes choose to perform the perform the procedure in a single sitting due to extent of infection.

Post Root canal therapy care

The endodontic treatment leaves a tooth weakened since the blood and nerve supply of the tooth has been removed. Therefore, a tooth must be reinforced with a dental crown immediately after a root canal procedure to prevent it from the spontaneous fracture.  Such an advice must not be ignored else, the tooth may get damaged under chewing pressures. A proper root canal by an expert followed by a crown will normally preserve the tooth for life.

A root canal procedure is usually the last resort at saving a tooth and preventing tooth extraction. However, such a procedure can be easily avoided if you maintain optimal oral hygiene through regular brushing and flossing. If you feel that you are having continuous tooth pain which does not go away, you may require a root canal therapy. If that happens, visit us immediately so that our emergency dentist can take care of your problem.