Restorative and Cosmetic Dentistry
Endodontic/ Root Canal Therapy

Root canal therapy or endodontic therapy is needed when the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay or infection.  Sometimes a root canal is performed on healthy teeth in order to help prevent future problems or pain prior to having a restoration placed.  In order to save the tooth, the pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth), nerves, bacteria, and any decay are removed from with in the root and the resulting space is filled with medicated dental materials.  A root canal is simply a filling for the root of a tooth.

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.  Removal of a tooth is also a more invasive procedure than root canal treatment.

Root canal treatment is highly successful and usually lasts a lifetime, although on occasion, a tooth will may need to be retreated due to an unexpected outcome such as reinfection.

Signs and symptoms for possible root canal therapy:

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

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.
  • Prevention of pain

What does root canal therapy involve?

A root canal procedure requires one or more appointments and can be performed by a dentist or endodontist (a root canal specialist).

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 opening is made on top of the tooth and a series of instruments are placed into the opening, one at a time, removing the pulp, nerve tissue, and bacteria.  If tooth decay is present, it will also be removed with special dental instruments.

Once the tooth is thoroughly cleaned and filled, the access opening will be sealed with either a permanent filling or, if additional appointments are needed, a temporary filling will be placed.

All teeth that have root canal treatment should have a crown (cap) placed.  This will help protect the tooth from reinfection, prevent it from breaking, and restore it to its full form and function.

After treatment, your tooth may still be sensitive, but this will subside as the inflammation diminishes and the tooth has healed.

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.