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Tech Talk With Dr. Cranska

Dr. Jeffrey Cranska
Dr. Jeffrey Cranska's picture
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November 3, 2016

I have witnessed the high-technology changes in dentistry since I started going to the dentist as a child in the 1950s, and I am still a dental patient.

Last month, I fractured a large tooth-colored filling in a back tooth. There was no pain, but now the dentist needed a dentist.

I called my general dentist and went for a consultation. An X-ray was taken. The digital image was shown to me on the monitor, and I quickly noticed an abscess on the tooth next to the broken tooth. There was still no pain, but now I had two problems. I scheduled an appointment to have a crown placed on my broken tooth, but before that, I needed to see an endodontist for a root canal on the adjacent tooth.

Q: What is a root canal?

A: A root canal (endodontic therapy) is a dental procedure to remove the soft pulp tissue inside the center of a tooth, leaving the rest of the tooth, including the roots, intact. The treatment saves the tooth and may last a lifetime. Root canals have a high success rate.

Q: How did my problem start?

A: The usual causes are trauma to the mouth from a broken tooth, deep decay, and large or broken fillings. Sometimes a tooth is slowly dying after the trauma or dental treatment and symptoms occur months or years later. In my case, a crown was placed on this tooth 16 years ago when a cusp broke.

Q: What is the procedure?

A: This is usually completed in one appointment. Local anesthesia is used to numb the area. The tooth is isolated and a small opening is made in the center of the tooth. The canals inside the roots are cleaned and shaped. The canals and access opening are filled.

Q: Do you need a crown after a root canal?

A: Teeth that need root canals usually have past fillings or have been broken. When the nerves and blood supply of the tooth are removed, the remaining tooth becomes brittle. A crown covers the tooth to return the tooth to its proper form and protects it during function. In my case, the tooth already has a crown, so a filling can seal the access into the tooth. However, my broken tooth next to it does not need a root canal before placement of the crown.

After my root canal, I returned to my general dentist for the crown preparation and temporization, and he filled my root canal tooth. The lab-made ceramic crown was permanently placed two weeks later. Now I’m put back together thanks to modern dentistry.

My sincere thanks go to Drs. Lou Berman and Jeff Leigh for my care. Doctors aren’t always the best patients.

Remember, the health of your mouth affects your whole body. Seeing your dentist is part of your wellness program.

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