What is endodontic treatment?

“Endo” is the Greek word for “inside” and “odont” is Greek for “tooth.” Endodontic treatment treats the inside of the tooth.

To understand endodontic treatment, it helps to know something about the anatomy of the tooth. Inside the tooth, under the white enamel and a hard layer called the dentin, is a soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue, and creates the surrounding hard tissues of the tooth during development.

The pulp extends from the crown of the tooth to the tip of the roots where it connects to the tissues surrounding the root. The pulp is important during a tooth’s growth and development. Once a tooth is fully mature, it can survive without the pulp, because the tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it.

Infection of the pulp can be caused by trauma to the tooth, deep decay, cracks and chips, or repeated dental procedures. Symptoms of the infection can be identified as visible injury or swelling of gums, sensitivity to temperature or pain in the tooth and gums. Infection may also be visible on an x-ray. If you experience any of these symptoms, your dentist will most likely recommend non-surgical treatment to eliminate the diseased pulp.

How is a root canal performed?

This injured pulp is removed and the root canal system is thoroughly cleaned and sealed. This therapy usually involves local anesthesia and may be completed in one or more visits depending on the treatment required. Success for this type of treatment occurs in more than 90% of cases. If your tooth is not amenable to endodontic treatment or the chance of success is unfavorable, you will be informed at the time of consultation or when a complication becomes evident during or after treatment. We use local anesthesia to eliminate discomfort. You will be able to drive home after your treatment, and you probably will be comfortable returning to your normal routine.

What happens after treatment?

When your root canal therapy has been completed, a report of your treatment will be sent to your restorative dentist. You should contact the restorative dentist’s office within one week to schedule an appointment for your definitive restoration. Your restorative dentist will decide what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth. It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine endodontic treatment or microsurgery. If a problem does occur, we are available at all times to respond. To prevent further decay, continue to practice good dental hygiene.

How much will it cost?

The cost associated with this procedure varies depending on factors such as the severity of damage to the affected tooth and which tooth is affected. In general, endodontic treatment and restoration of the natural tooth are less expensive than the alternative of tooth removal and replacement with an artificial tooth. An extracted tooth must be replaced with a bridge or implant to restore chewing function and prevent adjacent teeth from shifting. These procedures tend to cost more than endodontic treatment and appropriate restoration.