Gregory E. Oxford, DDS, MS, PhD  &  Isabell G. Oxford, DMD
100 Whetstone Place, Suite 308, St. Augustine, FL 32086  (904) 810-2345

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By Oxford Dental Associates
July 14, 2021
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: root canal  
DontFeartheRootCanal-ItCouldJustSaveYourTooth

Root canals often get a bum rap. Although the procedure saves millions of teeth every year, it's often erroneously portrayed as an unpleasant experience. And if that wasn't enough, a long-discredited medical theory has found new life on the internet asserting root canals are a health danger.

First off, root canals play an immensely important role in treating teeth with advanced decay. If not promptly treated, a cavity can turn into a major infection of the interior tooth pulp and root canals, and ultimately the supporting bone. Teeth with this level of decay are not long for this world.

A root canal treatment stops this disease process in its tracks. After numbing the tooth and surrounding gums, we drill a small hole into the tooth's interior and then remove all of the infected tissue within the pulp and root canals. After disinfecting these areas, we fill them with a rubber-like substance called gutta percha.

After sealing off the access hole—and later capping the tooth with a life-like crown—the tooth is secure from further decay. And, by the way, the procedure doesn't hurt, thanks to local anesthesia. If anything, any pain caused by the decay attacking the tooth's nerves has now been alleviated.

So, what about the idea floating on the Web that root canals are dangerous? The "root" for this conjecture is a theory by Weston Price, an early 20th Century dentist, that leaving a "dead" body part in the body leads to various health problems (including cancer). That would include a root-canaled tooth, which has had the living tissue in the pulp removed.

There's just one problem—Weston's theory was fully investigated in the 1950s and overwhelmingly discredited. The supposed cancer threat was also reviewed in a 2013 study, which found no link between root canals and increased cancer risk. In fact, dental patients who had undergone several root canals had a diminished risk.

Like all other health procedures, root canals have some risks of complication. But those complications are far from life-threatening—it's tooth-saving benefits are often worth the risk. So, fear not if your dentist says you need a root canal. It won't hurt and it won't endanger your health—and it could save your tooth.

If you would like more information on root canal therapy, 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 Safety.”

By Oxford Dental Associates
February 24, 2021
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?

By Oxford Dental Associates
May 11, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: root canal  
RootCanalAwarenessWeekATimetoLearnHowTeethAreSaved

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the month of May? Balmy breezes? Sweet-smelling flowers? How about root canal treatment?

The last item might seem out of place…but for the last ten years, Root Canal Awareness week has been celebrated in May. So let’s take a closer look at this important—and often misunderstood—dental procedure.

What we commonly call a “root canal” is a special treatment that can save diseased teeth which might otherwise be lost. But the root canal itself is actually a set of hollow, branching passages deep inside the hard outer tissue of the tooth. The tiny “canals” contain the tooth’s soft pulp, including nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue. These tissues help teeth grow during childhood but aren’t necessary in healthy adult teeth—and, what’s worse, they can become infected via deep cavity or a crack in the tooth’s outer layers.

When bacteria infect the pulp tissue, the inflammation often causes intense discomfort. In time, the harmful microorganisms can also pass through the tooth’s root and into the tissue of the jaw, resulting in a painful abscess. Eventually, if it isn’t treated, the tooth will likely be lost.

Root canal treatment is designed to remove the infection, relieve the pain…and save the tooth. It is usually performed under anesthesia for your comfort. To begin the procedure, a small hole is made in the tooth’s enamel to give access to the pulp; then, tiny instruments are used to remove the diseased tissue and disinfect the tooth. Finally, it is sealed up against re-infection. Following treatment, a cap (or crown) is often needed to restore the tooth’s full function and appearance.

Despite some rumors you may have heard, root canal treatment is neither very painful nor likely to cause other health problems. So if you come across these discredited ideas, remember that dentists and dental specialists called endodontists perform some 25 million root canal procedures every year—and this treatment method  has been validated for decades.

Of course, like any medical procedure, root canal treatment is not 100% successful. While the procedure has a very high success rate, it’s possible that additional treatments will be needed in some cases. However, the alternative—extracting the tooth—has similar potential downsides; plus a replacement tooth will be needed to avoid the health and lifestyle troubles caused by missing teeth. But one thing is certain: Ignoring disease in the tooth’s soft tissues isn’t a good move, because the infection won’t go away on its own—and down the road it will only get worse.

So this May, while you’re taking time to smell the flowers, spare a thought for the often-misunderstood root canal. If you’d like more information on root canal treatment, please contact us or schedule a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “A Step-By-Step Guide to Root Canal Treatment” and “Root Canal Treatment: What You Need to Know.”

By Oxford Dental Associates
September 05, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: oral health   root canal  
FactsYouShouldKnowAboutRootCanalTreatment

If the words “root canal” frighten you, what you probably don't know is that “root canal treatment” doesn't cause pain, it alleviates it — by treating infection deep in the root of your tooth.

  • What is a root canal? The central chamber of a tooth contains the living vital tissues comprising the pulp including its nerves and blood vessels. The interior of the tooth's roots containing the pulp make up its root canals.
  • How do I know if a tooth has a root canal infection? Symptoms of root canal infection may include sharp, intense pain when you bite down, a dull ache or pressure, or tenderness and swelling in gums near an infected tooth. There may be lingering pain after eating cold or hot foods. However, sometimes an infected tooth may stop hurting and you no longer feel pain. This doesn't mean the infection has gone, only that the nerve may have died. Make an appointment if you suspect that you have any or some of these symptoms.
  • Why would a tooth need root canal treatment? If the tissues in the root canal/s become infected or inflamed because of deep decay or trauma to a tooth, root canal treatment is needed to treat the infection and save the tooth. If left untreated, root canal infection can spread into the bone immediately around the root.
  • What takes place in a root canal procedure? After a local anesthetic is administered to numb the tooth and surrounding area, a small opening is made in the biting surface for a back tooth, or behind a front tooth. Dead and/or dying tissue is removed from the pulp chamber and the root canals are cleaned, disinfected, and sealed to prevent future infection.
  • What can I expect afterwards? Your tooth may feel tender or sensitive for a few days. You can take over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, aspirin or ibuprofen, for example, to relieve pain or discomfort. Contact us if you have pain that lasts more than a few days. A crown is usually needed to protect the tooth following root canal treatment. Further arrangements need to be made for this stage of the procedure. Don't chew on the affected tooth until symptoms subside and the tooth has been restored as necessary.
  • Who performs root canal treatment? While all general dentists have received training in endodontic treatment and can perform most endodontic procedures, in complicated situations you may be referred to an endodontist, a specialist in root canal diagnosis and treatment.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about root canal treatment. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Common Concerns About Root Canal Treatment.”

By Oxford Dental Associates
June 14, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
LeAnnRimesDentalDramaEmergencyRootCanal

Singer LeAnn Rimes was forced to cancel a string of performances recently, as a more pressing engagement came up: a late-night meeting with her endodontist. It turned out that the country-pop star needed some emergency dental work performed while she was on tour. But her die-hard fans needn't have felt left out — Rimes faithfully tweeted each stage of her dental treatment.

The trouble began before she was scheduled to play a show in Ohio. “Waiting on the endodontist to meet me and do a nighttime root canal,” she informed her twitter followers. Instead of performing, Rimes was advised to spend the next few days resting after the emergency treatment. “Happy Friday! I'll be spending mine in bed,” she tweeted after the previous evening's procedure. The following Monday, Rimes returned to the dentist's chair for follow-up treatment.

It turned out that the singer had been battling dental pain for months. “I am so disappointed that I can't make it to my fans tonight.” Rimes explained in a statement. “I had wanted to give them the show they deserved and only wish this tooth pain held out a little longer.”

If there's a moral to this story, it's this: If you have tooth pain, don't wait to see a dentist. Call us right away!

A feeling of constant pain and pressure in your mouth is a clear indication that you may need a root canal. Another telltale symptom is sharp pain when you bite down on food, or lingering pain after eating something hot or cold. Not every symptom is as clear-cut, however — the only way to know for sure whether you need treatment is to come in for an evaluation.

Pain in your teeth or gums may be a symptom of a serious condition. Even if the pain goes away temporarily, an underlying infection generally does not. If a treatment such as root canal therapy is needed, the sooner it is obtained, the better you'll feel. And remember, root canal treatment doesn't cause tooth pain — it relieves it!

If you have any concerns about tooth pain, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “I'd Rather Have a Root Canal” and “Signs and Symptoms of a Future Root Canal.”