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Endodontics involves the maintenance and treatment of the soft inner tissues of the teeth, called the pulp. They most well known endodontic procedure is a root canal.
Root Canal Therapy
Root canal therapy is needed when the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay or infection.
In order to save the tooth, the pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth), nerves, bacteria, and any decay are removed and the resulting space is filled with special, medicated, dental materials, which restore the tooth to its full function.
Having a root canal procedure done will save a tooth that otherwise would die and have to be removed. Extracting (pulling) a tooth will ultimately be more costly and cause significant problems for adjacent teeth.
What happens during a root canal?
The pulp, nerves and vessels of the tooth will be removed, and the resulting space will be filled with gutta-percha. A crown or filling will be added to stabilize the tooth and it will continue to function as normal.
Root canal treatment is highly successful and usually lasts a lifetime, although on occasion, a tooth will have to be retreated due to new infections. A root canal procedure requires one or more appointments and can be performed by a dentist or endodontist (a root canal specialist).
Cracked Tooth Treatment
As people retain their natural teeth longer (due to advances in dental technology), the likelihood of cracked teeth increases.
There are many reasons why teeth may crack, such as, biting on hard objects, trauma, grinding and clenching of teeth.
When tooth enamel is cracked, the pulp and inner workings of the tooth then become exposed, and painful irritation occurs.
If left untreated, the pulp becomes irreversibly damaged and constantly painful. The resulting pulp infection can affect the bone and soft tissue surrounding the tooth.
How are cracks in the teeth treated?
There are many different types of cracked teeth. Some can only be exposed using X-ray machines, while others are clearly visible to the naked eye.
In cases where the tooth root is affected, root canal therapy is the most viable treatment option. When the crack is too severe for the tooth to be saved, the dentist will perform an extraction.
There are a number of restorative options in this case, such as bridges, dental implants and partial dentures. All of these structures can restore biting, chewing and speaking functions.
Root Amputation (Apicoectomy)
Root amputation is a specialized dental procedure, whereby one root is removed from a multi-root tooth.
The tooth is then stabilized and rendered fully functional with a crown or filling.
The multi-root teeth best suited to the root amputation procedure are the molars at the back of the mouth.
Why might I need a root amputation?
The general purpose of root amputation is to save an injured or diseased tooth from extraction, often in cases where a root canal has not been successful. It's always best to retain a healthy natural tooth if possible, and the root amputation procedure makes this possible.
However, even in the case of a “key” tooth, an extraction will have to be performed if the tooth is diseased, badly fractured or otherwise injured. Learn More »