Root canal therapy, also called endodontics, is the modern dental technology used to save teeth with a 95% success rate. Traditionally, infected or damaged teeth were removed. Unfortunately, root canals have a bad rap because most people confuse the pain resulting from the infected tooth with the procedure that stops the pain and saves the tooth. Root canals become necessary when there is very deep decay, or a fracture resulting in an infected nerve. The procedure restores a tooth to its healthiest state by removing damaged infected tissue from inside the tooth’s root. If the same process were happening to your finger or other body part the medical profession would call it “gangrene”. Some people are not even aware that a problem exists with their tooth until it is too late. Typically, symptoms of damaged teeth range from occasional sensitivity to hot and/or cold, tenderness to touch, discoloration of the tooth, constant throbbing, dull aches, pain when you chew or visible swelling on the gum line or face. Whether or not you have symptoms, if your tooth is not treated, it will worsen with time and may eventually require extraction.

The goal of root canal therapy is to save your unhealthy tooth so it can continue to function in a useful manner. The only other option other than root canal therapy is to remove the tooth. Extractions create spaces between your teeth and if these spaces are not filled it leads to bone loss and collapse. Eventually teeth tip and to fill the space changing the overall positioning of your teeth and leading to collapse of the bite/occlusion. Therefore if youi choose root canal therapy, the sooner the treatment is completed the better because the risk of losing the tooth is decreased, the pain is relieved and infection is prevented from spreading into your jaw.

With today’s modern instruments, treatment is much faster and may take only one or two appointments. It involves the removal of pulp from your root canal through a small opening on top of your tooth. The canals are then cleansed and sealed with specific materials to prevent bacteria from reaching the bone. Once root canal therapy is complete, the tooth becomes brittle. It is strongly recommended that your tooth be restored with a crown to prevent future damage, such as fractures, that could result in extraction. A crown will allow the tooth to function for many years to come (see crowns section)

Root Canal vs Implant (which option is better?)

DR. McKenzie would rather a root canal attempted first when-ever possible. Often there is no option due to a cracked root or decay that is too deep. Dr. McKenzie would like to see the root canal option explored first.

  • Root canal therapy is much less expensive than implant treatment.
  • Root canal therapy is less invasive than implant therapy
  • When the tooth root is retained, the periodontal ligament is also saved. The PDL has lots of innervation which sends the brain back information such as pressure and position. In a sense the tooth root has sensors that send back valuable information to the brain. An implant has no sensors. With implant treatment the periodontal ligament(PDL) is lost. That feed-back from the tooth to the brain helps with chewing and biting. It keeps you from biting too hard and breaking things.