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Posts for tag: Root Canal

By Joseph R. Hendrick, Jr., DDS, PA
November 08, 2020
Category: Dental Procedures
HowAFVsAlfonsoRibeiroSavedHisTooth

Remembered fondly by fans as the wacky but loveable Carlton on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Alfonso Ribeiro is currently in his fifth year hosting America's Funniest Videos. It's the perfect gig for the 48-year-old actor, who loves to laugh and make others laugh as well. This is quite the opposite experience from one he had a few years ago that he remembers all too well: a severely decayed tooth.

After seeing his dentist for an intense toothache, Ribeiro learned he had advanced tooth decay and would need root canal treatment. Ribeiro wasn't thrilled by the news. Like many of us, he thought the procedure would be unpleasant. But he found afterward that not only was the root canal painless, his toothache had vanished.

More importantly, the root canal treatment saved his tooth, as it has for millions of others over the last century. If you're facing a situation similar to Alfonso Ribeiro's, here's a quick look at the procedure that could rescue your endangered tooth.

Getting ready. In preparation for root canal therapy, the tooth and surrounding gums are numbed, often first with a swab of local anesthesia to deaden the surface area in preparation for the injection of the main anesthesia below the surface. A dental dam is then placed to isolate the infected tooth from its neighbors to prevent cross-contamination.

Accessing the interior. To get to the infection, a small access hole is drilled. The location depends on the tooth: in larger back teeth, a hole is drilled through the biting surface, and in front teeth, a hole is drilled on the backside. This access allows us to insert special tools to accomplish the next steps in the procedure.

Cleaning, shaping and filling. Small tools are used to remove the diseased tissue from the interior tooth pulp and root canals. Then the empty spaces are disinfected. This, in effect, stops the infection. Next, the root canals inside the tooth are shaped to allow them to better accept a special filling called gutta percha. The access hole is then sealed to further protect the tooth from future infection, and a temporary crown is placed.

A new crown to boot. Within a couple weeks, we'll cap the tooth with a long-lasting lifelike crown (or a filling on certain teeth). This adds further protection for the tooth against infection, helps strengthen the tooth's structure, and restores the tooth's appearance.

Without this procedure, the chances of a tooth surviving this level of advanced decay are very slim. But undergoing a root canal, as Alfonso Ribeiro did, can give your tooth a real fighting chance.

If you would like more information about root canal treatments, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine articles “A Step-By-Step Guide to Root Canal Treatment” and “Root Canal Treatment: How Long Will It Last?

SavingaDiseasedPrimaryToothCouldMeanBetterOralHealthLaterinLife

It’s often best health-wise to preserve even the most troubled tooth—including a child’s primary (“baby”) tooth. If that sounds like too much effort for a tooth that lasts only a few years, there’s a big reason why—if it’s lost prematurely, the incoming permanent tooth above it could erupt out of position.

Preserving a decayed primary tooth could include procedures similar to a root canal treatment, commonly used in adult permanent teeth with inner decay. However, we may need to modify this approach to protect the primary tooth’s pulp. This innermost layer plays a critical role in early dental development.

Because an adult tooth has reached maturity, removing diseased pulp tissue has little effect on its permanent health. But the pulp contributes to dentin growth (the layer between it and the outer enamel) in primary and young permanent teeth, so removing it could ultimately compromise the tooth’s long-term health.

Our goal then with a child’s tooth is to remove as much diseased tissue as possible while involving the pulp as little as possible. What techniques we use will depend on how much of the pulp has become infected.

For example, if decay has advanced to but hasn’t yet penetrated the pulp, we may remove all but a small amount of the decayed structure just next to the pulp to avoid its exposure. We may then apply an antibacterial agent to this remaining portion and seal the tooth to curb further infection.

If on the other hand the pulp has become infected, we may try to remove only the infected portion and leave the remaining pulp intact. We’ll only be able to do this, however, if we deem the remaining pulp healthy enough to remain infection-free after the procedure. If not, we may need to remove the entire pulp as with a traditional root canal. This option, though, is a last resort due to the possible effect on dentin growth and the tooth’s long-term health.

As you can see attempts to preserve a primary tooth can be quite involved. But if we can help it reach its full life span, it could mean better dental health for a lifetime.

If you would like more information on caring for primary teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Root Canal Treatment for Children’s Teeth.”

By Joseph R. Hendrick, Jr., DDS, PA
July 08, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Root Canal  

Could your dental symptoms be trying to tell you that a root canal is on the horizon?

No one wants to think about problems with their smiles but it can happen whether we want it to or not. So, what symptoms are not to be Root Canalignored and what are some signs that it’s time to see your Shelby, NC dentist Dr. Joseph Hendrick, Jr.? Find out now so that you don’t lose a tooth to something that could have been treated.

Warning Signs that You May Need a Root Canal

While tooth pain is a warning of a problem it doesn’t necessary mean you need a root canal (there are many reasons for dental pain). But here are some telltale signs of infection that could mean a root canal is imminent:

  • Severe dental pain that occurs either when putting pressure on the affected tooth or while eating
  • Prolonged tooth sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Darkening of the tooth
  • Swelling, pain or tenderness of the gums surrounding the tooth
  • A pimple-like growth (abscess) on the gums near the affected tooth

If you are noticing any of these symptoms then it’s time to get immediate dental treatment from your Shelby, NC general dentist.

How Root Canals Ease Pain

Before a root canal can actually happen the first step will be to run X-rays to determine just how much damage has been done to the tooth (a tooth that is affected by trauma, decay or an infection severely enough that it reaches the inside of the tooth will require a root canal). These X-rays will help us determine whether a root canal is the right course of action.

For the treatment itself, the procedure will be performed under local anesthesia so that you don’t experience any discomfort. Many people needing a root canal are in a lot of pain when they come into the office. Numbing the area can often be a major relief to the sufferer.

Once the anesthesia has kicked in it’s time to start the root canal. We will begin by drilling into the hard layers of enamel until we get inside the tooth. Once inside, we will clean it out and remove the decaying or infected tissue (also known as the dental pulp). Antibiotics may also be placed into the root canals to prevent the infection from coming back.

Then we will rebuild the tooth using a special material to fill the canals and the rest of the tooth. In order to protect the overall structure of the tooth, your Shelby restorative dentist will often place a dental crown over the tooth.

Have questions about root canals? Wondering if your symptoms warrant a trip to our Shelby, NC dental office for care? Then don’t hesitate to call Dr. Joseph Hendrick, Jr. today. Your smile depends on it!



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Joseph R. Hendrick, Jr., DDS, PA
511 N. Morgan Street
Shelby, NC 28150
(704) 484-0077
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