Hello, I am Dr. Dale Behner of Dental Care Today PC – E. Dale Behner DDS. When a tooth’s nerve and pulp becomes infected, a dentist and patient must make a choice of whether to attempt to save the tooth by executing a root canal or to extract the tooth.
There are several factors that affect this determination. These include whether there is an infection in the surrounding bone, the amount and condition of the remaining tooth structure, the strength of the supporting bone, and the presence of periodontal disease.
During endodontic treatment, the nerve and pulp of the affected tooth are taken out. This tissue contains veins, arteries, and lymph vessels. The dentist or endodontist uses files of various sizes to clean out the canals. Once the roots are cleaned out and widened, they are filled with a special rubber material that seals them off.
The root canal procedure is only the first step in the complete tooth restoration. After the root canal, without a crown, the tooth will probably become dry and brittle. The final steps are the core build-up and crown placement. A durable dental crown protects the remaining tooth, allows normal function, and prevents shifting of the surrounding teeth.
A root canal is frequently the most conservative treatment when a root is infected or a tooth has severe decay or damage. Root canals have been performed with success for generations and have a very low failure rate.
But there is always a slight possibility that a tooth with a root canal can have complications down the road. If there was a tiny crack in the treated tooth, it can become re-infected. A tooth with curved roots is harder to fill and they can also become re-infected. Occasionally, the tip of a file can break off in a root during the procedure and cause problems.
Because of the small risk of failure, some people wonder if they should consider a dental implant instead of a root canal. This is not a black and white decision. Like root canals, dental implants have a high success rate. But there are risks with dental implants, as well.
If you have been told that a root canal or a dental implant is necessary, talk with your dentist about the pros and cons of each procedure. If you do not currently have a dentist, I invite you to schedule a consultation at Dental Care Today PC – E. Dale Behner DDS. You can rely on Dale Behner for important, unbiased information so you can make an informed decision about your dental treatment.