Encino Dentist is a dentistry practice in Encino, California, that performs root canals and restorative treatment for dental issues. Root canals are among the most common and highly requested dental procedures in the country. As per the 2015 statistics, the CDC noted that 91% of adults above 20 years have struggled with dental caries sometime in their lives. 27% of these dental issues remain untreated, and these cavities leave them susceptible to more complex problems down the line. Below is what you need to know about root canals and how you can contact our dentists for dental exams, check-ups, and treatment.

What is a Root Canal?

Root canals and the accompanying pulp chambers are the natural hollows or anatomic space inside a tooth, and they comprise of nerve tissue, blood vessels, and various cellular entities. These elements are what make up the dental pulp. The pulp chamber goes down the canals at the root and extends to the surrounding bone. All the roots have at least one canal, but some have multiple canals.

A root canal is a treatment sequence of the infected pulp inside a tooth to remove the infection and keep the contaminated tooth from microbial invasion in the future. More specifically, this treatment entails the removal of these infected elements, shaping, cleaning, and disinfecting the hollows with small files and irrigating solutions, and then filling the gaps. Other common terms for root canal treatment (RCT) are endodontic therapy, root canal therapy, and endodontic treatment.

According to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), root canals are a standard treatment for damaged or diseased teeth aimed at alleviating pain and restoring teeth to normal health. The AAE derived that 15 million root canals are completed each year, which goes to show its high importance in dentistry.

Types of Dental-Related Pain

Typically, patients will first experience spontaneous pain whether they are using the infected tooth or not and this off-and-on pain can last anywhere between weeks to years. Too much sensitivity to hot or cold drinks and food occurs to infected teeth that are still alive. When the sensitivity is only toward hot food and beverages, root canal intervention can be necessary before things escalate.

However, there are many causative factors for dental problems and not all these issues call for root canal treatment. Gum recession can expose root surfaces and make the teeth sensitive to cold. Also, sinus congestion can generate pressure around the roots of the upper teeth, thus, leading to pain during chewing, and this is often confused with root canal pain. Pain in the jaw can arise from discomfort in the jaw joint, or it could be discomfort referred from another tooth requiring a root canal. Gum disease manifests itself as a throbbing pain around teeth, and it is often misconstrued as root canal pain. These examples are indications that not all kinds of toothaches justify root canal treatment, so you are highly advised to consult with a dentist or endodontist for proper diagnosis. If you are not comfortable with the diagnosis they give you, it doesn't hurt to get a second opinion before launching any treatment procedure.

Traditional vs. Conventional Methods

Just like most areas of medicine, root canals have come a long way from the primitive and excruciating methods to new technologies that are virtually painless. The traditional way involved filing inside the tooth where the infected pulp resided, a process that was not very effective. This method is unable to reach the tiny spaces where bacteria can hide during the procedure, thus, missing as much as 60% of the canal walls. New technologies have replaced the standard root canal treatment and therefore, made it easier to clean out the root canal system which is very complicated. This improvement is especially vital when handling cases of multi-rooted teeth like molars that comprise of elaborate channels for nerves and blood vessels.

Types of Root Canals

  • Elementary Root Canal (Apicoectomy)

The first step in RCT treatment is taking an X-ray to see how the root canals are shaped and establish if there are signs of infection in the adjacent bone. A dentist or endodontist can do this initial step. An endodontist is a more advanced dentist who specializes in the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of ailments of the dental pulp. The complexity of the root canal procedure is what primarily determines the kind of professional you need. For the traditional RCT, the dentist will use local anesthesia to numb the area near the infected tooth. Even if the nerve is dead, most dentists use anesthesia to make patients feel more at ease.

The next step is to place a rubber dam (a sheet of rubber) around the affected or dead tooth to ensure that this area stays dry and saliva-free during treatment. The dentist will then drill an access hole into the tooth to facilitate the removal of the pulp, bacteria, debris, and decayed nerve tissue using root canal files. These instruments of varying diameter are placed into the access hole and pushed through the full length of the tooth to scrub the sides of the root canals. From time to time, a solution like water or sodium hypochlorite is used for flushing away the debris.

Upon thorough cleaning of the tooth, the dentist will seal the tooth right away or wait for roughly a week before doing so. A time-lapse is necessary in cases of tooth infection to allow the application of medicine to clear up the infection then sealing follows. Some root canal procedures are complex and therefore not completed in the same day; so, a temporary filling is placed in the exterior hole to block contaminants food and saliva.

When it comes to filling the interior of the tooth – the hollow where the pulp was – the dentist places a sealer paste and rubber compound (gutta percha) inside the tooth's root canal. The exterior access of the tooth is covered with filling material like amalgam, eugenol or zinc oxide.

The last step is the supplementary restoration of the tooth by placing a crown or other restoration material. The goal here is to give maximum protection, negate breakage, and reinstate the tooth to full functionality. The endodontist or dentist will inform you if there is a need for more dental work soon and of course, share tips on oral hygiene regimen moving forward.

You may experience sensitivity around the treated tooth, and this is attributed to natural tissue irritation, particularly in cases where the infected tooth was painful or was severely infected. The dentist will prescribe pain medications like ibuprofen or naproxen to control the pain in the first few hours or days after the procedure then you can resume normalcy duly.

  • Root Canal Retreatment

This kind of root canal procedure is performed when a previous root canal was done incorrectly, poorly, or the tooth failed to heal correctly. It happens if the curved canals were not treated previously and such problems were overlooked during the first round, and therefore, the crown placement was delayed, and eventually, contaminants like saliva infected the tooth. In such an event, retreatment of the area and affected is non-negotiable, and it happens as follows:

The first step is to reopen the tooth and gum area for inspection to detect infection, improper healing, and other issues.

The original canal filling is then removed so the endodontist can clean the canals to gain access to the problem therein or perhaps thorough cleaning is all that was required.

Upon cleaning the canals, the next step is filling and sealing them and placing a temporary filling in the tooth. If the canals are deemed too narrow or they are blocked, endodontic surgery is required to correct this. The orthodontist makes an incision to allow the sealing of the other end of the root in question.

After this goes smoothly, you will come for a second visit to place a crown over a new filling.

  • Laser Root Canal Therapy

Old stories paint a negative picture of root canals as being extremely painful, but in the real sense, most patients report that the pressure mimics what they feel during a tooth filling. Nonetheless, if you are anxious over this procedure or you are constrained for time, laser root canal therapy is your best bet. Laser root canal therapy utilizes a parallel beam of intense light to clean inside the tooth and "melt" away from the debris that harbors bacteria and infection. This debris layer is also called the "smear layer" of the root. Laser root canal therapy effectively cleans the base, and this can happen over two appointments lasting about 90 minutes each.

Waterlase Dental Laser from Biolase Technologies is the only root canal laser that is approved by the FDA, and many dentists have given it a stamp of approval. The Waterlase uses a laser and high-pressure water system to take out infection and debris from the root canal. This system generates heat and pressure to remove debris without having to use drills or hand files, which are time-consuming not to mention evoking fear in patients. The laser goes deep into the porous tubules, tiny crevices, dentinal tubules where bacteria are hiding, places where metal instruments cannot reach. Lasers leave the surrounding tissue intact, so there are no injuries to deal with after the procedure. More so, the Waterlase goes beyond merely cleaning the root to sterilizing it, thereby, improving your chances of a successful process.

Advantages of Laser Root Canal Therapy

As explained above, cleaning out the root canal is challenging so if you are seeking a more lasting solution, a laser root canal is a suitable method. You get considerably less time spent in the dental chair and superior results and resume normalcy within a short time. What's more, there are fewer side effects to contend with as compared to traditional methods. You will not have to worry over files getting stuck inside root canals or breaking during the procedure. More so, the Waterlase technology can be used with little or no local anesthesia, and it limits the amount of bloodshed which is a significant pull factor if you cannot stand the sight of blood. Post-operative issues are almost nonexistent as laser technology lessens the amount of irritation, discomfort, and swelling that is typically felt when the anesthesia is wearing off. Laser RCT patients could do without pain medication that is usually prescribed after dental surgery procedures.

The above benefits of laser RCT notwithstanding, dentists combine this new technology with traditional methods to optimize the desired outcomes. Your dentist will determine which way to go after thoroughly examining your situation.

Reasons for Getting a Root Canal Treatment

People experience toothaches when taking meals, at nighttime, or during the day, but most of us ignore the pain until the discomfort becomes too much to bear. This pain could be a sign of underlying dental issues like tooth decay and an infected or a dead tooth. It is imperative that you prioritize seeing an endodontist for an examination before determining what course of action to take. Here are five reasons for getting a root canal procedure:

  • Infected or dying tooth: extreme tooth decay can extend deep inside the tooth, thus, reaching the pulp and infecting it with bacteria. Sometimes pain builds up, and eventually, the dental pulp will die and start decaying, and removing this decay is not easy. A root canal will remove the infected inner pulp (this is soft and living tissue) and stop it from spreading to the surrounding tissue. Also, removing the infected nerve is vital to keeping pain at bay.
  • Endodontic abscess: untreated root canal problems leave the infected pulp to die, and a pocket of pus forms near the root, which can extend to gums and the jaw. The abscess can also manifest like a pimple or bump located outside gums, causing a bad taste in the mouth. This abscess grows and infects the bone area near the root, and it can also launch systemic body inflammation, thus, paving the way for severe conditions like heart disease. Periodontal abscesses are also acutely painful, but they need other specialized treatment, not an RCT.
  • Trauma: the extreme force applied to a tooth can damage it from the root area, and consequently, the tooth dies. The same applies to a fracture; the breakage may extend deep inside, reaching the pulp. When this happens, there is not much structure to work with above the gum line, so a root canal is done to install a post. This preparation makes the restoration of the fractured tooth possible.
  • Resorption: this condition occurs when the tooth structure dissolves after injury, trauma, rigorous movement during orthodontist procedure, tooth replantation, among other factors. External resorption starts externally and goes inside the tooth while internal resorption dissolves from mid-section or inside the tooth then goes outward. Saving this tooth structure from further destruction requires RCT coupled with specialized conditioning and repair.
  • Too much pain: contrary to popular belief, root canals treatments alleviate pain, making it an ideal treatment procedure for people battling root canal
  • Save infected tooth: bacteria can eat away at teeth until there is barely anything to sav This infection can cause a great deal of pain before the tooth is lost eventually. The infection also makes the adjacent teeth more susceptible to decay, gum disease, more tooth loss, among other issues.
  • Prevents additional tooth problems: root canals issues don't just go away without proper intervention even if the pain stops. The infected teeth could be dead, and the infection smolders to adjacent areas.

After seeing how dangerous things could potentially get, it is highly advisable that you pay attention to any warning signs and see a dentist as soon as possible.

Dental Management after a Root Canal Treatment

  • After successfully going through a root canal treatment, you may experience discomfort, but the pain is manageable with over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen. If need be, the dentist can also recommend medication for handling infections.
  • Should the pain last longer or become more severe or swelling occurs, it is vital that you contact your dental provider immediately. Even the most successful RCTs can have unforeseen challenges but don't worry; contact your endodontist for another dental exam.
  • Permanent restoration (e.g., composite filling or crown) is needed after RCT to keep off bacterial contaminants and tooth fracture. This additional procedure is usually charged separately from the root canal treatment.
  • Recall appointments every 6-12 months are necessary to gauge the healing process and to do permanent fillings. Such visits are not subject to extra charges.
  • A Proper oral hygiene regimen is desired to ensure a better prognosis for the restored tooth. Also, it would help if you had routine dental exams and cleanings.

Contact a Root Canal Dentist Near Me

The majority of teeth-related problems can be solved with minor interventions like taking antibiotics, getting fillings, and teeth cleaning. However, there are some complex issues such as root canals that require more substantial intrusions to handle the underlying problems for permanent results.

If you have been experiencing any of the above issues for a while now, and things keep getting worse, it is time to make that endodontist appointment and start a path of recovery. If you reside in Encino, California, contact Encino Dentist at 818-650-0429 to book a consultation with one of our expert root canal dentists today.