Root Canal Treatment

Do you or someone you know experience a toothache, whether sharp, dull, throbbing, or achy? You might need a root canal treatment. This can be difficult for you to chew and concentrate, and even in severe cases, unable to sleep at night if it is untreated. More importantly, if you're putting off a root canal treatment because you're fearful, it may lead to a serious infection and eventually can turn into an abscess, which can be a more serious problem once it spreads to the body and could cause new health issues or exacerbate existing health problems.

People associate the word "root canal" to pain, however root canal treatment is supposed to get rid of your pain and get you to comfort. It is the infection that is actually causes you the pain. As the infection spreads and grows (due to the bacteria multiplying), it puts pressure on the surrounding nerves which trigger the pain response.

Root canal treatment is often a straightforward procedure to relieve dental pain and save the tooth. 

There are multiple possible causes of root canals:

Extensive Dental Decay

Dental Decay in Reston, VA

Dental decay that infects the pulp chamber (where the nerves reside). When decay infects the pulp chamber, it will cause the pulp chamber (or nerves) to slowly degenerate and die, resulting in infection and eventually turns into an abscess. At Reston Sunrise Dentistry, Dr. Hanah Pham's ultimate goal is early prevention using fluoride treatment and prompt intervention with as simple as a filling. Treating a cavity early not only saves the patient a lot of money but it also preserves the integrity of the tooth for many years to come.

Cracked Tooth

A crack can be caused be repetitive daily pressure of bruxism and also from chewing on hard foods or objects. Cracks can travel in many different directions--once a crack travels, it can be unpredictable. In severe cases, the crack can travel to bone (causing tooth loss), in moderate cases it can travel to the pulp chamber leading to infection of the nerves, or if you're lucky, the crack can travel up the gum line and Dr. Hanah Pham can save it with a crown to protect the tooth instead of a more complicated procedure.

Irreversible Pulpitis

Normally, over 70-80% of vital teeth that go through restorative dental treatments (fillings, crowns, etc) will go through a healing phase called reversible pulpitis. However, a small percentage of teeth can go through irreversible pulpitis if healing fails to occur. It may take weeks or months to see symptoms of irreversible pulpitis. Factors affecting the vital tooth are long-term trauma to the tooth, repeated decay, repeated necessary dental procedures, or sometimes it's a simple aging process of the tooth.


As the problem tooth degenerates, the pulp chamber eventually will die and will become completely dead. The tissue within the pulp chamber will eventually die and bacterial buildup will start growing and multiplying, causing a tooth infection. At the later stage of an infection, you may have swelling which is the combination of pus, dead tissues, and bacteria within the gums. The abscess may get larger and more painful, and it may spread to different areas of the body as the infection continues.

Treating Root Canals

Some patients may feel that a root canal procedures may be overwhelming and frightening due to their dental phobia, irrational fears of the dental visit, limited jaw opening because of TMJ disorder, their busy life schedule, and last but not least, they may have a severe gag reflex that could prevent them from getting regular dental work. Even with Dr. Hanah Pham's expertise and gentleness, sedation dentistry is commonly requested by her patients to help get them through difficult dental procedures, especially root canal treatment, while they sleep.

The tooth needs to be numbed with local anesthetics to start the procedure. Dr. Hanah Pham will then carefully remove the pulp tissues inside the tooth, will clean, disinfect, and shape the root canals and place a filling to seal the space. She believes in medicament treatment in her root canal therapy in which several antibacterial medicated solutions are repeatedly soaked for each layer of the root canal during the procedures, which allows an increased success rate. Even though it could take double the amount of time as a normal root canal procedure, Dr. Hanah Pham does not mind doing this for her patients because she knows it is worth the time and effort that she puts in. The goal of using medicaments is to treat accessory canals that are not usually accessible to mechanical cleansing (with root canal files), and they also treat the bacteria in the main canals during the filing process of the mechanical cleansing treatment layers by layers at a time.

Accessory canals can be very curvy and can take many twists and turns, which are sometimes the result of reinfection. In more difficult root canal treatments, usually in molar teeth, some main canals can have deep curves at the end which can make it challenging and sometimes impossible to get the files down through the curve. This is when medicament therapy can help serve as an antibacterial benefit. Some reinfection are due to poorly cleaned and poorly sealed root canal treatment, but it can also occur due to inaccessible main or accessory canals. Furthermore, sometimes secondary infection is unavoidable due to root fracture from excessive pressure with bruxism (grinding/clenching habits) or even chewing on hard foods. This is why Dr. Hanah Pham recommends a specialized protective splint to protect the teeth from grinding pressure. After the root canal, the ADA (American Dental Association) recommends to have a crown placed as soon as possible.

Dr. Hanah Pham has perfected her methods and skills in her treatment of root canal therapy safely, effectively, and comfortably with our without sedation dentistry. Her successful root canal therapy has been proven for over the past 21 years. The extra time and details she puts into her root canal procedures are appreciated by many patients. Dr. Hanah Pham's motto is that she "would rather do it right the first time," and is willing to put in the extra mile to ensure success and longevity for the tooth as long as possible in the given situation.

At our office in Reston, VA, Dr. Hanah Pham and staff understand that sometimes dental expenses can incur at the wrong time. We believe not only in helping patients maximize dental benefits, but also to try to create a unique treatment plan that is comfortable to the patient's budget. Please don't let your dental fear and financial reasons stop you from getting rid of your pain and eventually achieving dental health. Call our office today at (703) 860-4148 or use the form below to contact us.

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