My Blog

Posts for tag: Root Canal

By Bruce E. Hanley DDS
November 01, 2021
Category: Dental Procedures

Remembered fondly by fans as the wacky but loveable Carlton on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Alfonso Ribeiro is currently in his fifth year hosting America's Funniest Videos. It's the perfect gig for the 48-year-old actor, who loves to laugh and make others laugh as well. This is quite the opposite experience from one he had a few years ago that he remembers all too well: a severely decayed tooth.

After seeing his dentist for an intense toothache, Ribeiro learned he had advanced tooth decay and would need root canal treatment. Ribeiro wasn't thrilled by the news. Like many of us, he thought the procedure would be unpleasant. But he found afterward that not only was the root canal painless, his toothache had vanished.

More importantly, the root canal treatment saved his tooth, as it has for millions of others over the last century. If you're facing a situation similar to Alfonso Ribeiro's, here's a quick look at the procedure that could rescue your endangered tooth.

Getting ready. In preparation for root canal therapy, the tooth and surrounding gums are numbed, often first with a swab of local anesthesia to deaden the surface area in preparation for the injection of the main anesthesia below the surface. A dental dam is then placed to isolate the infected tooth from its neighbors to prevent cross-contamination.

Accessing the interior. To get to the infection, a small access hole is drilled. The location depends on the tooth: in larger back teeth, a hole is drilled through the biting surface, and in front teeth, a hole is drilled on the backside. This access allows us to insert special tools to accomplish the next steps in the procedure.

Cleaning, shaping and filling. Small tools are used to remove the diseased tissue from the interior tooth pulp and root canals. Then the empty spaces are disinfected. This, in effect, stops the infection. Next, the root canals inside the tooth are shaped to allow them to better accept a special filling called gutta percha. The access hole is then sealed to further protect the tooth from future infection, and a temporary crown is placed.

A new crown to boot. Within a couple weeks, we'll cap the tooth with a long-lasting lifelike crown (or a filling on certain teeth). This adds further protection for the tooth against infection, helps strengthen the tooth's structure, and restores the tooth's appearance.

Without this procedure, the chances of a tooth surviving this level of advanced decay are very slim. But undergoing a root canal, as Alfonso Ribeiro did, can give your tooth a real fighting chance.

If you would like more information about root canal treatments, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine articles “A Step-By-Step Guide to Root Canal Treatment” and “Root Canal Treatment: How Long Will It Last?

By Bruce E. Hanley DDS
May 31, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Root Canal  

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the month of May? Balmy breezes? Sweet-smelling flowers? How about root canal treatment?

The last item might seem out of place…but for the last ten years, Root Canal Awareness week has been celebrated in May. So let’s take a closer look at this important—and often misunderstood—dental procedure.

What we commonly call a “root canal” is a special treatment that can save diseased teeth which might otherwise be lost. But the root canal itself is actually a set of hollow, branching passages deep inside the hard outer tissue of the tooth. The tiny “canals” contain the tooth’s soft pulp, including nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue. These tissues help teeth grow during childhood but aren’t necessary in healthy adult teeth—and, what’s worse, they can become infected via deep cavity or a crack in the tooth’s outer layers.

When bacteria infect the pulp tissue, the inflammation often causes intense discomfort. In time, the harmful microorganisms can also pass through the tooth’s root and into the tissue of the jaw, resulting in a painful abscess. Eventually, if it isn’t treated, the tooth will likely be lost.

Root canal treatment is designed to remove the infection, relieve the pain…and save the tooth. It is usually performed under anesthesia for your comfort. To begin the procedure, a small hole is made in the tooth’s enamel to give access to the pulp; then, tiny instruments are used to remove the diseased tissue and disinfect the tooth. Finally, it is sealed up against re-infection. Following treatment, a cap (or crown) is often needed to restore the tooth’s full function and appearance.

Despite some rumors you may have heard, root canal treatment is neither very painful nor likely to cause other health problems. So if you come across these discredited ideas, remember that dentists and dental specialists called endodontists perform some 25 million root canal procedures every year—and this treatment method  has been validated for decades.

Of course, like any medical procedure, root canal treatment is not 100% successful. While the procedure has a very high success rate, it’s possible that additional treatments will be needed in some cases. However, the alternative—extracting the tooth—has similar potential downsides; plus a replacement tooth will be needed to avoid the health and lifestyle troubles caused by missing teeth. But one thing is certain: Ignoring disease in the tooth’s soft tissues isn’t a good move, because the infection won’t go away on its own—and down the road it will only get worse.

So this May, while you’re taking time to smell the flowers, spare a thought for the often-misunderstood root canal. If you’d like more information on root canal treatment, please contact us or schedule a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “A Step-By-Step Guide to Root Canal Treatment” and “Root Canal Treatment: What You Need to Know.”

By Bruce E. Hanley DDS
December 06, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Root Canal  

What your dentist in Arlington, VA wants you to knowroot canal

If you are having consistent tooth pain, you may have questions about what to do next. Your first step should be to seek out a great dentist. Your dentist can help you decide if you need a filling or a root canal first. If there is deep decay, sometimes a root canal is needed to eliminate dental pain. So, how do you know if you need a root canal? Dr. Hanley at Bruce Hanley and Associates in Arlington, VA wants to help answer that question.

There are definite signs and symptoms that a root canal might be in your future. You need to pay attention to a tooth that is:

  • More painful after exposure to hot or cold temperatures
  • More painful after a filling is placed on the tooth
  • Radiating pain to other areas of your jaw, face or head
  • Continuously painful with a stabbing, aching, throbbing pain

You also need to look for changes to your gums around the tooth root. You probably need a root canal if you see a red or white bump, bleeding, swelling, or white drainage coming out from the gums near the root of the tooth.

Sometimes you may see no visible signs that anything is wrong, and you may feel no painful symptoms, but your tooth may still be dying naturally. This happens because the inner area of the tooth, called the pulp, is hardening and you are losing blood and nerve supply to the tooth. This process is called sclerosis. You may only notice that the dying tooth appears darker and grayer than the teeth next to it.

The only way to ensure you need a root canal is to visit your dentist. Dr. Hanley will take state-of-the-art digital x-rays and perform temperature and vitality testing to determine if your tooth is still vital. If you do need a root canal, rest assured that Dr. Hanley will provide expert care in comfortable surroundings.

A root canal can eliminate dental pain and allow you to keep your tooth, so before you think about tooth removal, think about root canal therapy. For more information about root canals and other restorative and cosmetic dental services call Dr. Hanley at Bruce Hanley and Associates in Arlington, VA today!