As mentioned, our hope is that you will maintain your natural teeth as long as possible. Occasionally, a tooth will have extensive decay, an infected nerve or loss of tooth structure that requires endodontic therapy. Endodontics is the treatment of the pulp and surrounding tissues of a tooth. When root canal therapy is performed, the pulp of the tooth is removed and then filled with a suitable filling material, usually referred to as “gutta percha”. People have anywhere from 1 to 4 canals in a tooth. Extra canals may branch out and are called “accessory canals.” The number of canals and anatomy of a tooth can vary. The word “endo” comes from the Greek language and means “inside” or within. Root canals are performed within the confines of the tooth and despite misconception are not oral surgery.
Occasionally a tooth that was treated months or even years ago may develop new problems. The seal that was placed during the original root canal may become compromised or break down. In other cases a tooth that has received endodontic treatment fails to heal or continues to have pain. You may require a second endodontic procedure, usually known as a retreatment. This procedure usually requires the same steps performed during the original root canal but may be limited to only certain roots within a tooth originally treated.
Endodontic or Apical Surgery
In some cases, despite endodontic therapy, infection may persist or a cyst may form at the base of one or more of the roots of the treated tooth. If so, it will be necessary to remove the infected root tips and the nearby tissue. This is known as an apical surgery or an apicoectomy. The area around the apex of the tooth that is infected is cleaned, and the tip of the root is resected and sealed. Sutures are placed and an ice pack is applied. Most patients will have some minor swelling and occasional bruising with some numbness.
All of these procedures are performed in our facility by Dr. Bankhead and can be done using any of our available relaxation or sedation techniques.