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In understanding what a root canal is one must realize that all teeth are hollow.  Inside of the hollow space is a tissue called the dental pulp.  The dental pulp is made up of blood vessels, nerves, connective tissue, and a specialized cell which forms the root.  When bacteria get very close or into the dental pulp, it becomes inflamed.  Since the tooth is encased in a rigid structure, like your brain, the tissue has limited ability to swell.  While the tissue has some ability to repair itself, it can become overwhelmed. At that point, the inflammation (irreversible pulpitis) in the tooth will not resolve and will subsequently die off (pulpal necrosis).  At this stage, or if a root canal becomes reinfected over time or if a previous infection in the tooth never completely resolved, a root canal or root canal retreatment is indicated.  Root canal therapy consists of cleaning, shaping, and disinfecting the hollow space inside of the tooth. 

During treatment, you will recieve local anesthetic. A rubber dam will be placed to isolate your tooth from your mouth. Most treatments take one visit; however some require multiple visits.

There should not be any discomfort during treatment.  Local anesthetic will be administered.  The perception of numbness typically lasts between 4 and 5 hours.

At the completion of your treatment, a temporary filling will be placed in the access opening in your tooth.  You should return to your general dentist for the permanent restoration.  While this can be done as soon as the day of your treatment, we recommend having the permanent restoration placed within 2 to 4 weeks.
Once treatment is complete, we need to ensure that your treatment is successful.  You will receive a postcard reminding you to follow up with our office.  We recommend following your tooth every six months for 2 to 4 years and then yearly thereafter.  There is no additional charge for follow-up appointments.

The number of visits required to complete a treatment varies depending upon the complexity and diagnosis.  Typically, treatment can be completed in one visit.  There are cases which benefit from multiple visits (usually between two and three).  We will discuss the proper course of treatment during your initial appointment. 

Endodontic treatment is not 100% successful.  Thus, a tooth which has been treated may fail to heal or continue to cause pain. If this should occur, the tooth can often be saved by having the tooth retreated nonsurgically or surgically.


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Dr. Philip L. Michaelson
Professional Endodontics, Inc.
Board Certified Endodontist

Cleveland endodontist, Dr. Philip L. Michaelson is dedicated to excellence in endodontics and root canal therapy including non surgical root canal retreatment, regenerative endodontics, cracked teeth, microscopic apical surgery and traumatic dental injuries.

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