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“Endo” is the Greek word for “inside”. “Odont” is Greek for “tooth”. So, the term endodontics pertains to the inside of the tooth. To understand endodontic treatment, it helps to know something about the anatomy of the tooth. Inside the tooth, beneath the outermost layer of white enamel, and the 2nd layer known as the dentin, is a soft tissue layer, called the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. It extends from the crown of the tooth to the tip of the roots. The root canal is the portion of pulp contained within the root of a tooth. Generally, front teeth have one root, and one root canal within that root. Molars have 3 roots, and usually 3 or 4 root canals. Endodontists specialize in procedures involving the pulp and root of the tooth, especially, root canals.

Why would I need an endodontic procedure?

Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. This inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes: deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or a crack or chip in the tooth. Also, an injury to a tooth can cause pulp damage, even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess. Potentially, the tooth would need to be extracted (removed).

What are signs / symptoms of needing endodontic treatment?

Signs and symptoms of needing endodontic treatment include the following: pain, lingering sensitivity to heat or cold, a tooth’s tenderness to touch and/or chewing, tooth discolouration, swelling / tenderness in nearby gingival (gum) tissues, bone and/or lymph nodes. In rare cases, there are no symptoms.

What is the process for having a root canal?

First, a medical and dental history are reviewed, an intra-oral examination occurs, and a radiograph (x-ray) is taken. This all helps confirm a diagnosis, leading to a discussion of the treatment options. If endodontic (ie. root canal) treatment is necessary, it involves the specialist making an opening in the crown of the tooth. Very small instruments are used to clean the pulp. The endodontist removes the inflamed or infected pulp, carefully cleans and shapes the inside of the root canal, then fills and seals the space. Afterward, you will return to your dentist, who will place a crown or other restoration on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function. After being restored, the tooth should function like any other tooth.

Can a root canal procedure be done while I am sleeping?

Yes. At Uxbridge Dental Specialists, we offer the full spectrum of anesthesia – from totally awake… to totally asleep. So, whatever makes you most comfortable, if you request this additional comfort to your “root canal” treatment, we are pleased to accommodate you.