ANATOMY OF THE TOOTH
In order to understand endodontic treatment, it helps to know something about the anatomy of a tooth. Teeth have several layers. The outside layer of the tooth is composed of a hard layer called enamel. Enamel is supported by an inner layer called dentin, which has at its center a soft tissue known as the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue that are responsible for forming the surrounding dentin and enamel during tooth development. The pulp receives its nourishment supply from vessels which enter the end of the root. Although the pulp is important during development of the tooth, it is not necessary for function of the tooth. The tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it even after the pulp is removed.
HOW WILL I BENEFIT FROM ENDODONTIC TREATMENT?
- The goal of endodontic treatment is to save your natural tooth.
WHY DO I NEED ENDODONTIC TREATMENT?
- You are in danger of losing your tooth due to infection or inflammation of the pulp— the soft tissue inside the root canal.
WHAT CAUSES THE INFECTION OR INFLAMMATION?
- The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes such as deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or a crack in the tooth.
- An injury to a tooth may also cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess, which may result in tooth loss.
HOW IS THE PROCEDURE PERFORMED?
• Dr. Patel will examine and x-ray the tooth, then administer a local anesthetic. Once the tooth is numb, a small protective sheet called a “dental dam” is placed over the area to isolate the tooth and keep it clean and free of saliva during the procedure.
• Dr. Patel then makes an opening in the crown of the tooth and removes the inflamed or infected pulp. Very small instruments are used to clean the pulp from the pulp chamber and root canal. This space is also shaped for filling.
• Once the space is cleaned and shaped, the root canal is filled with a biocompatible substance called “gutta-percha.” This rubber-like material, along with adhesive cement, is placed in the space to ensure complete sealing of the root canal.
• You will then go back to your general dentist to get a crown or other restoration on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function. If the tooth lacks sufficient structure to hold the restoration in place, your general dentist may place a post inside the tooth.
• Endodontic treatment is typically completed in one office visit. However, depending on the complexity of your individual situation, two office visits may be necessary.
WILL I FEEL PAIN DURING OR AFTER THE PROCEDURE?
- Keep in mind that endodontic procedures are performed to relieve the pain of toothaches caused by pulp inflammation or infection. With modern techniques and anesthetics, most patients report that they are comfortable during the procedure.
- If there was pain or infection before the procedure, your tooth may feel sensitive, especially for the first few days after treatment. This discomfort can be relieved with over-the-counter or prescription medications. Dr. Patel may prescribe stronger pain medication if needed.
- After your endodontic treatment is completed, your tooth may continue to feel slightly different from your other teeth. However, if you have severe pain or pressure, or pain that lasts more than a few days, call our office.
The content was reproduced with permission from the American Association of Endodontists