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Root Canal Treatment

Need a Root Canal in Washington DC?

Infected teeth and those that are badly decayed often require a root canal if they are to be saved. During this procedure, the dentist removes the pulp and nerve of the damaged tooth before cleaning and sealing the inner portion. If this procedure isn't completed, tissue surrounding the affected tooth may develop an infection, leading to the formation of abscesses.

The term root canal refers to the cavity located in the central part of the tooth where the pulp or pulp chamber is located. This is where the nerve of the tooth resides, and this nerve is critical to the health and functioning of the tooth. However, the nerve doesn’t have any impact on the everyday functioning of the tooth, as it’s primary purpose is to provide sensation.

How Do The Nerve and Pulp Become Damaged?

Multiple dental procedures on the same tooth, a large filling, trauma to the face, deep decay or a chip or crack in a tooth can lead to damage to the nerve and pulp. Regardless of how the damage occurs, however, it is important to have the tooth fixed promptly. If not, the problem may spread.

Why Root Canals Are Necessary

Anytime the pulp or nerve tissue of a tooth is damaged, it begins to break down, leading to bacteria multiplying within the pulp chamber. The bacteria and other debris that has decayed can bring on an abscessed tooth or an infection. An abscess contains pus that accumulates in the ends of the tooth’s roots and then spreads past these roots. The face, head and/or neck may begin to swell, and bone at the root’s tip may be lost. As the abscess tries to drain, it can result in a hole opening up in the side of the tooth. The tooth then begins to drain into the gums or it may drain through the cheek and then into the skin.

Signs A Root Canal Is Needed

In certain cases, there are no signs a root canal is required. However, patients often report severe pain when they apply pressure to the affected tooth or chew using the tooth. When the tooth becomes discolored, this may be a sign a root canal will be needed, and the same is true if the gums near the tooth become tender or swollen. A pimple that persists on the gums near the tooth or one that recurs is a sign a root canal is called for, and the same is true when a tooth is sensitive to either cold or heat, even after the cold or hot item has been removed.

What Happens During A Root Canal?

The dentist begins the procedure by taking an X-Ray to determine if any infection is present and to see the shape of the canals. Anesthesia will then be used to numb the area, although the nerve is already dead. This helps to keep the patient calm and relaxed. A rubber dam must be placed around the tooth to prevent saliva from entering the area being treated, and a hole must be drilled into the tooth to access the pulp.

The dentist then removes any nerve tissue that has decayed and any debris present, using root canal files to accomplish this. A series of files must be used to scrub and scrape the sides of the canal, with each file being larger in diameter. A sodium hypochlorite solution or water will be used at various times throughout the process to remove any debris. Once all debris has been removed and the canals are clean, the tooth must be sealed. This may take place immediately, or the dentist may opt to wait a week to remove any infection. If this is the case, medication will often be placed into the tooth to remove it. In cases where the tooth isn’t sealed immediately, a temporary filling will be used to prevent contaminants from entering the tooth.

When the time comes to fill the tooth, gutta-percha is placed in the root canal. Gutta-percha is a rubber compound and sealer paste that fills the canals, and a filling is used to cover the hole used to access the tooth. In many cases, further restorative work, such as a crown or crown and post will be necessary. The dentist determines what needs to be done to protect the tooth and prevent further issues while restoring full function to the tooth. There is little, if any pain, associated with a root canal, and many patients find the relief they obtain from any pain they were experiencing is much greater than any discomfort they endure.

Individuals with a badly decayed or infected tooth have options when it comes to correcting the issue. Some opt to have the tooth pulled, leaving a gap behind, others prefer to remove the tooth and replace it with a dental implant, and some opt for a root canal. Call us today, and we’ll help you determine which option is right for your particular situation and the particular tooth. We want to provide you with a smile you love and teeth that contribute to your overall health. For this reason, we need to evaluate each tooth individually to create a treatment plan that works for you both in the short and long run.

Contact the Washington Center for Cosmetic Dentistry today at (202) 873-1341 so we can develop a treatment plan that addresses your dental problem. Regardless of whether you are missing teeth, have a problem with your bite, or teeth that are stained, we have a solution for you. Our goal is to meet all of your oral care needs, from general dentistry to cosmetic procedures.

Our Happy Patients

"My favorite dentist. Dr. Brown is hands down my favorite dentist. Highly skilled, fantastic bedside (chair side?) manner and a great team of skilled techs. Dr. Brown thoroughly explains proposed treatment, and keeps you informed the entire way. Her husband, Dr. Polowitz, is also great. Our whole family sees them."

Bill S.

"Dr. Brown and Pollowitz are highly skilled dentists, very talented artists, and have the best bedside or should I say "chair side" manner I have ever experienced. I trust them completely and have been seeing Dr. Brown and Pollowitz for almost 20 years now. When I lived out of town for two years, the dentist I saw there was amazed at the skill and perfection of the veneer and implant Dr Brown did and got the whole staff to come look at my mouth! I had an accident when I was a kid and have had lots of problems with my teeth ever since, and that includes many unpleasant experiences, but their kindness has given me a renewed respect and love for dentistry. It means a lot that Dr Brown will call me and find out if I am OK after a crown or something painful. She knows I am sensitive and takes time to take extra good care. Love them both."

Jenny L.

"As always my experience was top notch for a dental appointment. Dr Pollowitz explained the details of what he was going to do as he worked. It was an appointment to both replace a filling and to take care of the cavity on the outside of that filling. He proceeded slowly and there was never any feel of him rushing to get to the next patient. And Sylvia was very professional as always. Rate this office as a 5 star!"

Joan M.
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