Root canals have carried a certain negative stigma for a long period of time. Unfortunately this procedure is actually used to preserve and save millions of teeth every single year but often doesn't receive credit for doing so. During a root canal the "pulp" (nerves and blood vessels") is carefully removed from the pulp canal of a tooth. A root canaled tooth can continue to survive without an internal blood supply because it can be nourished by the tissues that surround it. Most posterior teeth that have root canal treatment will ultimately have crowns placed over them to help protect the tooth as it is weakener structurally following the root canal. Typical reasons for having a root canal include: tooth pain, a cracked or fractured tooth, an abscess/infection, or trauma.
Teeth that have had a root canal performed are weaker and more prone to subsequent crack development and fracture. This stems from the removal of tooth structure to perform the root canal. By placing a core buildup (bonded filling inside the tooth where the root canal was started) and then a crown, the tooth will be protected and you can continue to function on the tooth normally.
Both Dr. Young and Marlin perform root canals but will sometimes refer patients to an Endodontist (root canal specialist) if the tooth has complex anatomy that requires the use of a microscope.
Most root canals can be completed in a single visit much like a filling. Occasionally, if a tooth is severely infected 2 visits will be necessary to properly clean and disinfect the tooth prior to performing the final root canal.
While the advent and widespread success of dental implants have made this decision more difficult, in most cases root canals are still a viable and predictable option that allow patients to maintain their own natural tooth. Root canaled teeth can last a patient's entire life when they are well cared for and not abused and this treatment can be very successful when the tooth has good structural support.