Mesa, AZ dentist answers, “What’s the real story with root canal therapy?
There have been issues over the years with root canals. The main problem is the complexity of the root canal system and the difficulty of thoroughly cleaning and sterilizing ALL the diseased tissue from this complex system. Recent studies have shown that with our past technology we may remove only 70 percent, at best, of the infected organic material from the tooth.
Treatment Options for an Infected Tooth
But. things have changed dramatically in just the past year or two. We now have a couple of different options to COMPLETELY cleanse and sterilize infected teeth.
One system involves placing a dressing of calcium hydroxide and chlorhexidine paste inside the canals after mechanical and chemical cleaning and disinfecting. Studies have shown that in four weeks, this mixture will penetrate the ENTIRE root canal system and produce a completely clean and disease-free system.
The other system is the new GentleWave technology which can do the same in just one visit using sound waves to penetrate all the complex anatomy with fluids that produce a completely clean environment. Often, with this system, the procedure can be completed in just one visit. To learn more about the GentleWave system, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=2-dDlMOofvc.
Now there is no longer a reason to avoid root canal therapy due to the fear of infection spreading from the tooth to the rest of the body. The tooth can now be kept and restored to full function as nature intended, and without the need for extraction and implanting of foreign materials to replace it.
Ozone/lasers versus sodium hypochlorite
There are several articles floating around on the internet today about the use of ozone/lasers in the treatment of infected teeth. An article from PubMed shows the results of a scientific study on the effectiveness of ozone therapy versus the use of sodium hypochlorite (a standard root canal cleansing agent).
Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Radiol Endod. 2009 May, 107(5);e73-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tripleo.2009.01.048.
The results of the study show COMPLETE sterilization of the teeth with sodium hypochlorite, but INCOMPLETE sterilization using ozone/laser therapy.
We trust the results of scientific studies in our office, and the use of ozone/lasers in treatment of infected teeth is not the answer to producing a sterile environment in the tooth.
Another common misconception is that when root canal therapy is performed; the result is a dead tooth. This is frankly not true. If the tooth were dead, it would be rejected by the body’s own immune system, just like the way the body reacts to a splinter. There are two types of nerves involved with any tooth. The internal nerves of the tooth are primarily pain sensors. But there are also an enormous number of external nerves in the periodontal ligament space, which are pressure receptors. Therefore, a root canal treated tooth still has the same sensation when a person bites on something as it always had.
In short, a root canal treated tooth is NOT a dead tooth!