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By Bruce P. Mercado, DDS, PC
January 04, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: root canal  
SettingtheRecordStraightonRootCanalTreatments

If there was an “Unsung Hero” award for dental procedures, the root canal treatment would win hands-down. Much aligned in popular culture, today’s root canal treatment is actually a valuable tool for saving teeth that would otherwise be lost. And contrary to popular belief, root canal treatments don’t cause pain — they relieve it.

To help you understand its true worth, here are some common questions and answers about the root canal treatment.

What problem does a root canal treatment fix?
A root canal treatment stops a bacterial infection that has invaded the innermost part of a tooth — the pulp — and is advancing toward the end of the root through small passageways known as root canals. Most people first notice the problem as a sharp pain in the affected tooth that may suddenly dissipate in a few days. The infection has attacked the inner pulp tissue, rich in nerve fibers; when the nerve fibers die they stop sending pain signals. The infection, however, hasn’t died: as it advances, you may then begin to experience pain when you bite down or when you encounter hot foods. You may also notice tenderness and swelling in nearby gums.

How does the procedure stop the infection?
A root canal treatment removes all the infected or dead tissue and cleanses the pulp chamber. We enter the pulp chamber through a small access hole created in the tooth’s biting surface. After tissue removal, we then “shape” and prepare the empty chamber and root canals (often with the aid of microscopic equipment) to be filled with a special filling. After filling, the tooth is then sealed to prevent re-infection (most often, we need to install a permanent crown at a subsequent visit for maximum protection).

How much pain can I expect during and after the procedure?
During the procedure, none — the tooth and surrounding gums are fully anesthetized before we begin the procedure. Afterward, you may experience mild discomfort for a few days that can be relieved with over-the-counter medications like aspirin or ibuprofen.

What’s the ultimate value for a root canal treatment?
The procedure can save a tooth severely damaged by the infection. Even covered by an artificial crown, a living tooth continuing to exist and function normally within the mouth is usually more conducive for optimum oral health than an artificial tooth replacement.

If you would like more information on root canal treatments, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Common Concerns About Root Canal Treatment.”

By Bruce P. Mercado, DDS, PC
March 31, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: root canal   endodontics  
NeedaRootCanalFearNot

Perhaps you or someone you know has been told they will need root canal treatment. Maybe you're experiencing some unexplained tooth pain, and you think you might need to have this procedure done. Nervous? You shouldn't be! A good understanding of this common and relatively pain-free dental treatment can go a long way toward relieving your anxiety.

What's a root canal? It's the small, branching hollow space or canal, deep within the root of the tooth. Like an iceberg in the ocean, a tooth shows only part of its structure above the gum line: That's the part you see when you smile. But about two-thirds of the tooth — the part called the root — lies below the gum. A healthy root canal is filled with living pulp tissue, which contains tiny blood vessels, nerves and more.

A “root canal” is also shorthand for the endodontic treatment that's called for when problems develop with this tissue. For a variety of reasons — deep tooth decay or impact trauma, for example — the pulp tissue may become inflamed or infected. When this happens, the best solution is to remove the dead and dying tissue, disinfect the canals, and seal them up to prevent future infection.

How is this done? The start of the procedure is not unlike getting a filling. A local anesthetic is administered to numb the tooth and the nearby area. Then, a small opening is made through the chewing surface of the tooth, giving access to the pulp. A set of tiny instruments is used to remove the diseased tissue, and to re-shape and clean out the canals. Finally, the cleared canals are filled with a biocompatible material and sealed with strong adhesive cement.

After root canal treatment, it's important to get a final restoration or crown on the tooth. This will bring your tooth back to its full function, and protect it from further injury such as fracture. A tooth that has had a root canal followed by a proper restoration can last just as long as any other natural tooth. And that's a long time.

If you would like more information about root canals, please contact us to schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Common Concerns About Root Canal Treatment” and “Signs and Symptoms of a Future Root Canal.”

By Bruce P. Mercado, DDS, PC
January 14, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
LeAnnRimesDentalDramaEmergencyRootCanal

Singer LeAnn Rimes was forced to cancel a string of performances recently, as a more pressing engagement came up: a late-night meeting with her endodontist. It turned out that the country-pop star needed some emergency dental work performed while she was on tour. But her die-hard fans needn't have felt left out — Rimes faithfully tweeted each stage of her dental treatment.

The trouble began before she was scheduled to play a show in Ohio. “Waiting on the endodontist to meet me and do a nighttime root canal,” she informed her twitter followers. Instead of performing, Rimes was advised to spend the next few days resting after the emergency treatment. “Happy Friday! I'll be spending mine in bed,” she tweeted after the previous evening's procedure. The following Monday, Rimes returned to the dentist's chair for follow-up treatment.

It turned out that the singer had been battling dental pain for months. “I am so disappointed that I can't make it to my fans tonight.” Rimes explained in a statement. “I had wanted to give them the show they deserved and only wish this tooth pain held out a little longer.”

If there's a moral to this story, it's this: If you have tooth pain, don't wait to see a dentist. Call us right away!

A feeling of constant pain and pressure in your mouth is a clear indication that you may need a root canal. Another telltale symptom is sharp pain when you bite down on food, or lingering pain after eating something hot or cold. Not every symptom is as clear-cut, however — the only way to know for sure whether you need treatment is to come in for an evaluation.

Pain in your teeth or gums may be a symptom of a serious condition. Even if the pain goes away temporarily, an underlying infection generally does not. If a treatment such as root canal therapy is needed, the sooner it is obtained, the better you'll feel. And remember, root canal treatment doesn't cause tooth pain — it relieves it!

If you have any concerns about tooth pain, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “I'd Rather Have a Root Canal” and “Signs and Symptoms of a Future Root Canal.”

By Bruce P. Mercado, DDS, PC
June 26, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: root canal   endodontics  
FrequentlyAskedQuestionsAboutRootCanals

If you think you'd rather wrestle a pack of porcupines than go to the dentist for a root canal treatment — then maybe it's time to think again! This common procedure has been the butt of jokes for a long time. Let's set the record straight by answering some common questions about the much-maligned procedure.

Q: What is a root canal?

A: Coursing through the central part of each root is a hollow space or canal, which contains the pulp tissue. The pulp tissue contains the nerves which respond to temperature changes transmitted through the tooth. When the temperatures are extreme the nerves signal sensitivity and pain. It's also shorthand for the dental procedure that is performed when the pulp tissue that fills these canals develops a disease.

Q: Why do I need to get a root canal?

A: Because an infection or inflammation has developed deep inside one or more of your teeth. When the living pulp tissue — which contains nerves and blood vessels — becomes inflamed or infected, it can cause intense pain. It also releases bacterial toxins, which can lead to further problems.

Q: What happens if I don't get a root canal?

A: Your acute pain may temporarily go away, but the infection won't. It will eventually travel through the tooth's roots into the surrounding tissues. If left untreated, it may result in an abscess or even a systemic infection. That's why you need to take care of it now.

Q: Will it be painful?

A: Generally, a root canal procedure is no more painful than getting a filling. In fact, it starts the same way: An anesthetic is given to numb the tooth and the surrounding area. Then a small hole is made through the tooth's chewing surface and down into the canal. Diseased pulp tissue is removed through the hole via a set of tiny instruments. Finally, the root canal is cleaned, disinfected, filled with inert biocompatible material and sealed up.

Q: What happens after that?

A: Your tooth may be sensitive for a few days after the treatment, but the acute pain will be gone. Over-the-counter pain relievers generally work well for pain relief at this point. To restore your tooth to its fully-functioning state, a crown or other restoration is usually needed after root canal treatment. Properly done, the restored tooth can last as long as any of your natural teeth.

Q: Is there an alternative?

A: Yes. You can relieve the pain by having the tooth removed. But you don't want to go there. Tooth loss can lead to unwanted side effects, like migration of teeth, bone loss and eventually the inability to chew properly. It's far better to save your natural teeth when you can.

If you would like more information about root canals, please contact us to schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Common Concerns About Root Canal Treatment” and “Signs and Symptoms of a Future Root Canal.”