Endodontics is the area of dentistry dealing with the nerves of a tooth. There are three layers within a tooth. The outer layer is the part we see which the shiny hard enamel is surrounding the crown of the tooth. The second layer is called the dentin and has a similar appearance to bone. If decay enters the enamel or even penetrates the second layer of dentin, we can simply clean it out and place a restoration or filling.
In the center of the tooth lies the third layer of nerves and blood vessels called the pulp. When decay, which contains bacteria enters the pulp, a filling will no longer fix the problem. The tooth becomes infected and the pulp or living part of the tooth dies. As the infection spreads throughout the tooth, it eventually moves out of the tooth into the bone and causes an abscess which can be very painful.
There are two means of eliminating an abscess. The tooth can be extracted, or the tooth can be saved by means of a root canal.
What is a Root Canal?
Before performing a root canal, the tooth is well anesthetized. We then make a little hole through the center of the tooth and use small instruments to remove the infected pulp.
The canals are then sealed with a solid material called gutta-percha. Once the canals are sealed, the tooth cannot become re-infected. A properly done root canal should last a lifetime.
The tooth is then restored back to function. The term “root canal” has had very negative connotations in the past implying many painful trips to the dentist. At Chomiak Dental we utilize the latest materials and techniques. The new procedures for root canals are completed painlessly in one visit, making it like having a tooth filled.
What is an Apicoectomy?
On rare occasions the infection in the bone following a root canal may not heal completely. Sometimes the root canal can be retreated to assure all accessory canals were sealed. If retreatment can not be performed, possibly because of a post, then a minor surgical procedure called an apicoectomy may be necessary to remove the infection. A very tiny surgical incision is made near the root tip of the tooth and the tissue is slightly reflected. We then remove the infection directly, seal the root of the tooth with a special material, and sometimes place a small bone graft in the defect to help speed up the healing process.
What is a Root Resection or Hemisection?
Sometimes a multirooted tooth may have a single root which is fractured or damaged. A root canal is performed on the remaining tooth and the damaged root is surgically amputated from the rest of the tooth. The bone around the extracted root will heal and the remaining roots are generally enough to maintain stability of the tooth for a long time thus avoiding extraction.