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Endodontic Treatment

Root Canals | Root Canal Re-treatment| Cracked Tooth| Apical Surgery | Traumatic Injuries | FAQ's

Root Canals


The root canal is one of the most common dental procedures performed; more than 14 million performed a year with over a 95% success rate.
 This simple procedure can save your natural teeth and prevent the need for dental implants and bridges down the road.

A root canal is a specialized treatment used to save teeth that are damaged or diseased due to a deep cavity or traumatic injury to the dental pulp.
The pulp is the soft tissue at the center of the tooth which contains the blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue.
If the infected pulp is left untreated, an abscess may form at the end of the root, which can cause severe pain and swelling.
The infection can also spread and damage surrounding bone and lead to possible tooth loss.

The procedure involves the removal of the damaged pulp from the root canal system.
Once the pulp is removed, the canals are cleaned, disinfected, and sealed.

After a root canal procedure is completed, a crown may be required to protect the tooth from fracturing.

Treatment usually requires one visit and takes anywhere from 30 to 70 minutes to complete under local anesthesia.
We do offer IV sedation if it is desired, however a consult is required prior to treatment for any sedation.


Root Canal Re-treatment

There is about a 5% that a RCT will fail, meaning that the tooth will become re-infected. When this happens the RCT can be re-treated.
This procedure entails removing the existing filling in the canals and starting the process over again.

What causes a previously Endodontically treated tooth to need additional treatment?
New trauma or cracks, deep decay, or a loose, cracked or broken filling can cause new infection in your tooth.
In some cases, we may discover, using a microscope, that there are additional very small and/or curved canals that could not be found or treated during the initial procedure.  

Cracked Teeth

Teeth are exposed to crack inducing habits everyday. Clenching, grinding, and chewing on hard objects can result in cracks and fractures in teeth.
Since cracks and fractures seldom show up on x-rays, cracked and fractured teeth can be difficult to locate.
Cracked teeth exhibit a variety of symptoms, including erratic pain when chewing, releasing biting pressure, and exposure to extreme temperatures.

Types of Cracks


Craze Lines

Craze lines are tiny cracks in the outer enamel of the tooth. These cracks are most commonly found in adult teeth. Since the cracks are only superficial, appearance is the only concern.

Fractured Cusp

Occasionally the cusp becomes weakened, resulting in a fracture. The fractured cusp may break off or may be removed by a dentist. A fractured cusp rarely damages the pulp, so a root canal is seldom needed. The dentist usually restores the tooth with a full crown.

Cracked Tooth

This type of crack originates from the chewing surface of the tooth and extends down vertically towards the root. Since damage to the pulp is common, a root canal procedure is usually necessary. Occasionally the crack may extend below the gum line, requiring extraction. Early detection of the crack is essential, for if left untreated, tooth loss may occur.

Split Tooth

A split tooth is the result of untreated cracked tooth. Unlike a cracked tooth, a split tooth has distinct segments that can be separated, and cannot be saved intact. Whether or not portions of the tooth can be saved is determined by the position and extent of the crack. Although rare, Endodontic treatment and restoration can save portions of the tooth.

Vertical Root Fracture

Vertical root fractures begin at the root of the tooth and extend towards the chewing surface. Unfortunately, symptoms are hard to detect and the fracture may go unnoticed for some time. Treatment options include extraction of the tooth, and in some cases, Endodontic treatment if portions of the tooth can be saved.

Endodontic Surgery

Apical Surgery (Apicoectomy)


If a root canal fails, there are several options available. In many cases, the root canal can be retreated. However, when access to the root apices, or root tips, is not possible using conventional root canal treatment,
a procedure called an apicoectomy can be preformed.
An apicoectomy is the removal of the root tip and surrounding infected tissue of an abscessed tooth.

An incision is made in the gum tissue to expose the bone and inflamed tissue. The infected tissue is removed, along with the end of the root tip.
A root-end filling is placed to seal the end of the root and to prevent further infection, and the gum is sutured. The bone heals over the root in a few months, and full function is restored.


Traumatic Injuries

Teeth can sustain injuries as a result of trauma to the face. Examples include sports related injuries or a seemingly innocent incident where a front tooth sustains injury as a result of some sort of impact.
Endodontists are highly trained specialists to manage most of these traumatic injuries.
The types of traumatic injuries and the recommended treatments are listed below: Luxation Injuries: These injuries can dislodge the tooth out of its original position.
The tooth will need to be realigned back into its original position and held in place with an orthodontic splint for a short term. In some cases, root canal treatment is required.


Avulsed Tooth: Sometimes a traumatic incident can completely knock a tooth out of its socket. It is imperative to see a dentist within an hour of the accident to increase the chances of successful treatment.
Gently rinse tooth, but do not scrub it. The tooth should be placed in a suitable storage medium in the interim. The ideal place is in the patient's mouth under the tongue, to ensure the tooth does not dry out.
Other acceptable storage media are: contact lens solution and non-skim milk. The dentist will reinsert the tooth back into the socket and place a soft splint to hold in place.
Root canal treatment is required within 7-10 days.



1. What is Endodontic treatment?

Endodontic treatment removes infection from the inside of your tooth.  Underneath the hard enamel and the dentin of your tooth is a soft tissue called the pulp.
The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue.

The pulp extends from the crown of the tooth to the tip of the roots where it connects to the tissues surrounding the root.
The pulp is important during a tooth’s growth and development, but once a tooth is fully mature it can stay in place without the pulp. Your teeth stay attached via the supporting ligament (or periodontal ligament).

2. Why would I need an Endodontic procedure?

Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp, the soft tissue inside the root canal, becomes inflamed or infected, or when the pulp dies.
The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes: deep decay,repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or a crack or chip in the tooth.
In addition, an injury to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated,it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.

 3. Why choose an Endodontist?

Endodontists are dentists who have completed at least two years of additional training in root canal treatment. Because our practice is limited to Endodontics, we perform root canal therapy every day.
As root canal specialists, we are able to effectively treat and better diagnose difficult cases with the use of advanced technology.

4. Will I feel pain during or after the procedure?

Dr. Ollerhead is dedicated to providing root canal treatment that is painless and comfortable.  Our entire team goes out of their way to make you feel at ease.

For the first few days after treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure.
This discomfort can be relieved with over-the-counter or prescription medications.
Follow the directions on the bottle.

Your tooth may continue to feel slightly different from your other teeth for some time after your Endodontic treatment is completed.
However, if you have severe pain or pressure, swelling or pain that lasts more than a few days, please call us.

5. What do I do after treatment?

You must go back to your dentist after treatment for either a filling or a crown or your root canal may fail. Call your dentist today to schedule your appointment.

6. What causes a previously Endodontically treated toot to need additional treatment?
New trauma or cracks, deep decay, or a loose, cracked or broken filling can cause new infection in your tooth.
In some cases, we may discover, using a microscope, that there are additional very small and/or curved canals that could not be found or treated during the initial procedure.

"The contents of our website, such as text, graphics, images, information and other materials are for informational purposes only.
The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a dental or medical condition."



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Professional Affiliations
Dental Specialty Partners of New England are proud to be affiliated with the following organizations: