Beyond Root Canal Therapy: Other Treatments in Endodontics
Surely you know what a root canal is. But have you ever heard of an “apicoectomy”? As endodontists, we are always trying to get to the root of the problem, but the methods vary sometimes from case to case. So move over for just a few minutes, root canal, while we give these other endodontic treatments a moment in the spotlight:
A type of endodontic surgery, apicoectomy (pronounced “ape-icko-ectomy”) focuses on the “apex” (the tip), of the tooth root. The procedure is used when root canal treatment alone isn’t sufficient to adequately fix a diseased tooth. By accessing the tip of the root area through the gums, we are able to detect any hidden fractures or canals that are still causing tooth pain. We then remove the root apex and seal it to complete the procedure.
Endodontic retreatment refers to a second root canal treatment, when the first wasn’t adequate in fully removing the infection. It is not common to have to undergo retreatment, but it does happen. If pain persists in a tooth months or years after root canal treatment, it often means that there were hidden canals that need further treatment to fully resolve the infection and save the tooth.
Because a cracked tooth often means infection in the roots, endodontists are often the first to treat and assess a broken or cracked tooth. There are many different types of fractures in a tooth, from a full split down the middle to a cracked crown. Each requires quick professional action in order to save the tooth, which must be sealed (and in some cases the root pulp must be removed).
Often referred to as a “baby root canal” because it is often the treatment of choice in children with severe decay, a pulpotomy typically removes just the diseased pulp (as opposed all of it) in hopes of leaving the healthy pulp sterilized and in tact for further use within the natural tooth.
Infected or dead teeth can often appear darker than healthy teeth. Because this type of discoloration is internal, it requires a different type of teeth whitening than what most patients are used to. With internal bleaching, we perform a root canal to remove infected pulp and then place a whitening material inside the tooth to dissolve the stained material.
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