Root Canal Therapy

Root canal therapy, also referred to as endodontics, is needed when the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay or infection.  In order to save the tooth, the pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth), nerves, bacteria, and any decay are removed and the resulting space is filled with special, medicated, dental materials, which restore the tooth to its full function.

Having a root canal done on a tooth is the treatment of choice to save a tooth that otherwise would die and have to be removed.  Many patients believe that removing a tooth that has problems is the solution, but what is not realized is that extracting (pulling) a tooth will ultimately be more costly and cause significant problems for adjacent teeth.

Root canal treatment is highly successful and usually lasts a lifetime, although on occasion, a tooth will have to be retreated due to new infections.

Signs and symptoms for possible root canal therapy:

  • An abscess (or pimple) on the gums.
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold.
  • Severe toothache pain.
  • Sometimes no symptoms are present.
  • Swelling and/or tenderness.

Reasons for root canal therapy:

  • Decay has reached the tooth pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth).
  • Infection or abscess have developed inside the tooth or at the root tip.
  • Injury or trauma to the tooth.

What does root canal therapy involve?

A root canal procedure most of the time requires one or two appointments and can be performed with little or no discomfort. Best of all, it can save your tooth and your smile! Nothing is as good as your natural tooth! And sometimes your natural tooth may need root canal treatment for it to remain a healthy part of your smile. It will take a comprehensive examination by your dentist to determine if root canal treatment is indicated for your tooth. Not only must your dentist determine if the treatment can be an appropriate solution for your situation, but also that the overall condition of the tooth in question warrants the time and expense involved.

While the tooth is numb, a rubber dam (a sheet of rubber) will be placed around the tooth to keep it dry and free of saliva.  An access opening is made on top of the tooth and a series of root canal files are placed into the opening, one at a time, removing the pulp, nerve tissue, bacteria, and any infection within the roots. After all the nerve has been removed, the canals are sealed to prevent a future root canal infection. In most cases, your root canal procedure can be finished in one visit. After a root canal, most patients experience little pain, but this will subside as the inflammation diminishes and the tooth has healed.

All patients are given pain relievers however, to minimize any discomfort. Teeth treated with a root canal need to be restored afterwards. This could range from a simple filling to a large build-up with a post and crown.

You will be given care instructions after each appointment.  Good oral hygiene practices and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your root canal treatment.