Our office recently changed our protocols on finishing root canal procedures done by endodontic specialists. These changes reflect the safest and most effective dental practices known today. As with all procedures carried out at Thousand Oaks Family Dentistry, we put your treatment, comfort and convenience first!
When a root canal is finished, you are essentially left with a tooth sans nerve tissue and a small opening at the top. This opening is a necessary part of the root canal procedure that allows the endodontist to reach the nerve tissue and roots. Unfortunately, it is also a major deterrent to the long term structural integrity of the tooth. In order to restore strength to the tooth, the opening needs to be sealed with a special filling material called a core and finished off with a dental crown. This core material chemically bonds to the enamel and protects against fractures and cracks. Many times, a device called a post will be added to the core to provide more rigidity when necessary. Posts extend partially down one root and create an additional structural anchor for the core to adhere to.
Historically, the endodontists we work with would complete the root canal procedure and place a temporary filling into the opening (a "temporary core). This material does not actually bond to dental enamel and only serves to keep bacteria and food out of the inner tooth. It is very easy to remove, allowing for the quick re-access of a tooth if the first root canal was unsuccessful. Patients then had to return to our office, have the temporary filling removed and have a permanent restoration placed. Not only did this create a new opportunity for bacteria to invade the tooth, it caused our patients to spend days to weeks functioning with a severely weakened tooth.
Currently, our endodontic specialists are placing permanent posts and cores at the time of root canal completion. This ensures the tooth is continuously sealed and structurally reinforced prior to crown placement. While immediately placing a permanent core can make re-accessing the tooth more difficult, the positives largely outweigh any negatives. Very few teeth end up needing immediate re-access, and the continued structural support of the tooth is a far more important factor in long term root canal success.
If you would like to know more about root canals, posts, cores or any other dental procedures, please call our office. We are always happy and excited to walk you through any part of your dental treatment!