The most common reasons for needing a root canal are:
extensive tooth decay
a large cavity under a filling or crown
a dental abscess
the fracture of a tooth.
When we suspect that the nerve is dead, we will take an x-ray to determine if there is an abscess. Sometimes, however, the abscess is not visible yet, and we have to use your description, or other secondary diagnostic signs, to decide if a root canal is needed.
Here is a picture of a healthy tooth.
As you can see, the tooth consists of a crown, a root, a pulp chamber and pulp canal.
When everything is healthy, there is no abscess at the root tip and the blood flow is normal.
Sometimes the nerve dies and you have a toothache.
When the nerve dies, the result is an abscess at the root tip.
The reason the tooth hurts is because this abscess is pressing against nerves outside the tooth, in the surrounding bone, creating pressure and pain.
When this happens, we do a root canal.
The process of doing the root canal involves removing the diseased nerve tissue from the pulp chamber and canal, and replacing it with gutta percha - an inert rubber material that is cemented in place.
After the root canal is finished, the abscess goes away and the tooth is comfortable again.
Restoration of the tooth After having an endodontic procedure, a crown is almost always needed, to reinforce the biting part of the tooth and seal out future decay. This crown can sometimes be made at the same appointment as the second step of the root canal procedure, and sometimes it must be made later.
Occasionally, we must also place a post in the tooth to reinforce it against fracture. These posts are either made of gold, or stainless steel, depending on the shape of the tooth and amount of stress that the tooth will have to bear.
Bad reputation - undeserved!
In spite of the bad reputation that root canals have, they are actually quite comfortable! In fact, we often mention to our fearful patients that it will be "as comfortable as a haircut" or it's free.
We use the very best anesthetic, and never start until the tooth is 100% numb. And, we use special materials, techniques, and numbing procedures designed just for root canal teeth, to ensure that your appointment is uneventful and absolutely pain free.
Patients sometimes write letters, thanking us for the root canals we have done for them. One such patient recently had this to say:
"I've been avoiding the dentist for a good 4 years now, because the last time I went I couldn't chew on the right side of my mouth for months. We searched the AOL... and came up with Dr. Burch. My girlfriend called him and he actually came in on his day off to see me. He pretty much calmed me down right there, and convinced me that he would be able to do the procedure without putting me to sleep. The canal has been filled, with no pain and no problems. So far, this is the best dentist I've been to that I can remember. If you're in the San Jose area, and you've been trying to find a good dentist, Dr. Burch is the guy."
J. K., San Jose
If you have any concerns about whether we can treat you without pain - or if you are avoiding going to the dentist because of a previous bad experience, please contact us and we will get back to you promptly.
Our office has performed over 3600 successful root canals over the last 35 years. We take pride in providing this service to our patients, and hope you will allow us to prove to you that a root canal can be safe, effective and totally pain free.
If you are currently in pain, please call us at 650-965-1234 and make an appointment as soon as possible. We will examine you, take digital x-rays, and give you a written estimate of what needs to be done.
The sooner you call, the sooner we can get you out of pain and get your tooth comfortable again.Call Today!