Root Canal Treatment in Buffalo, NY
Experienced Buffalo Dentist Providing Affordable Root Canal Therapy in WNY
Root canal treatments are endodontic, meaning that they are accomplished through work done directly inside the teeth.
When bacteria infiltrate the soft inner tissues of teeth, they infect both the dentin and the pulp, the latter of which contains blood vessels that travel down the root of the tooth to the nerves and bony tissue below. Bacterial infection can wear away at the tooth, causing a painful and unsightly abscess, and if left untreated, the bacteria can even spread to other areas of the body. Through adherence to a daily regimen of brushing with toothpaste, flossing, and rinsing with fluoridated mouthwash; dental cleanings at least twice a year; and the regular use of a mouth guard during athletic activities, bacterial infection can usually be avoided.
However, accidents do happen. An avid and dedicated brusher can be prone to developing cavities merely due to genetic predisposition. Lack of adherence to a daily regimen can allow plaque to build up on the enamel, forming tartar and producing enamel-destroying acid. Blunt trauma to a tooth can crack the enamel, permitting bacteria to infiltrate the tooth before the enamel can remineralize. When infection does occur, it is imperative to receive proper dental care as soon as possible after symptoms begin to appear. Otherwise, bacteria can travel down the root canal, spreading infection and decay to the more essential tissues of the oral cavity.
A root canal treatment is the most effective means of healing the lower layers of a tooth after it has become infected. Because it is a minor surgical operation, a dentist must first administer an anesthetic to the tooth, sparing a patient from enduring any pain associated with the procedure. Once the tooth is numb, it is isolated from the rest of the mouth through the strategic placement of a dental dam, and the treatment can truly begin. A dentist will begin by drilling a small hole in the crown (the upper portion of the tooth) and using fine tools to extract as much of the inflamed dental pulp as possible—even the pulp at the very root of the tooth. Irrigation with a targeted spray of water may follow if there is any pulp remaining, and an antibacterial agent is applied to prevent resurgence of the infection. As soon as the interior of the tooth has dried, a biocompatible substance (a material that is harmless to the body) is placed in the hole, the top of which is then sealed with a temporary filling. At a follow-up appointment several weeks later, the filling is removed and a dental crown is installed over the top of the tooth, completing the treatment and restoring the tooth to health. The pulp inside the tooth will not regrow, but what remains of the dentin and the enamel should allow the tooth to remain firmly anchored in the mouth for years afterward.
Frequently asked root canal questions
Root Canal Overview
A root canal is a procedure that is done in a tooth when the pulp around the tooth becomes infected. Each tooth comprises enamel covering the surface and dentin underneath. Inside the dentin is the pulp, which consists of soft tissue, the dental nerve, and the blood supply to the tooth.
When the pulp is infected, a root canal procedure can be done to extract the pulp and eliminate the infection. The tooth is sealed internally, and though the tooth is now dead, the supporting structures to the tooth are still viable. The tooth can thus stay in the mouth as long as it is properly restored after the root canal procedure.
When Do You Need a Root Canal?
A root canal is usually necessary when a tooth becomes symptomatic. Sometimes the tooth can be sensitive to heat and cold. Sometimes there can be excruciating pain. Sometimes there is tenderness when biting or chewing. Sometimes the face swells. A root canal removes the pulp, and it stops the infection, the pain, and the sensitivity in their tracks.
Benefits of a Root Canal over Extraction
If the tooth is still intact, and it has strong bone support, a root canal is the best option. If the tooth is removed, then it has to be replaced either by a bridge or an implant. If the tooth is not replaced, changes in the bite will occur over time. Teeth will start shifting around, creating more problems. Keeping one’s own teeth is the ideal, provided that the affected tooth is strong enough to withstand the root canal and the restorative procedure.
Typical Root Canal Appointment
When a patient needs a root canal, there is telltale discomfort in a tooth. We do some testing to figure out which tooth is the problematic one. Using some local anesthesia, we numb the area. We can then open the tooth to relieve the pressure that is building up and causing the pain and discomfort. Further treatment is necessary to clean out the canals, eliminate the bacteria, and finally seal the tooth so that it can remain in place without further issues.
Time Length of a Root Canal Procedure
Depending on whether it is one of the anterior teeth, which usually have a single canal, or one of the posterior teeth, where there are more roots to the tooth and more canals, the root canal procedure will vary in length. Sometimes it is a single-visit procedure, but often it is two to three visits that are needed to complete a root canal.
A Previous Root Canal Did Not Heal Correctly
Patients come in on occasion with root canals that were done prior to seeking treatment from our office. Usually, if root canals are failing or not working out in the way that we would like, we usually will then refer the patients to an endodontist. An endodontist is a root canal specialist who would then treat that problem. Hopefully, the tooth can be either retreated or have another root removed. On occasion, though, the tooth is fractured and needs to be removed entirely.
Does a Root Canal Hurt?
Even with local anesthesia, it is difficult sometimes to totally numb the patient so that he or she does not feel anything. In certain instances, we must go into the tooth and numb the pulp directly only once we have accessed the pulp. Unfortunately, when a tooth has deteriorated enough, a little more discomfort is required to help the patient to be asymptomatic and pain-free.
How Long Do Root Canals Last?
A properly done root canal can last a lifetime. Again, it is dependent on the patient getting the tooth properly restored after the root canal. Many times, people have the root canal done and, once they are not in pain anymore, they do not have the tooth restored. The tooth then decays, and it must eventually be extracted.
Do Root Canals Hurt After the Procedure?
A root canal, like any other surgical procedure that is done in the body, sometimes causes some post-operative symptoms. We usually recommend that when people leave the office after having a root canal done, they take some ibuprofen before the anesthesia can wear off, after which point the medication will already be in the bloodstream and working. When the anesthesia wears off, these patients should not have any further pain or discomfort.
Driving After a Root Canal
Root canals done in the office with local anesthesia usually do not require that a patient ask a driver to take her or him home. Patients can drive and function quite normally. There will only be the numbness in the face, which is similar to the numbness that lingers after a filling.