Root Canal Therapy

Root canal therapy 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.

What is a root canal?

Under the hard outer layer of your tooth there are tiny channels, called root canals, that run like threads down to the roots. These root canals contain pulp, which is made up of nerves and blood vessels that provide nutrients to your tooth.

Sometimes chips, cracks or a deep cavity can let bacteria inside your tooth, causing the pulp to become infected or inflamed. A blow or injury to your tooth can also cause pulp damage. Left untreated, an infected pulp can be very painful and may cause an abscess (a germ-filled collection of pus) to develop.

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

During root canal therapy, your dentist will make a small opening in your tooth and remove the infected pulp. Your tooth can continue to survive without a pulp because it will be nourished by surrounding gum tissue. Once the diseased pulp is cleaned out, the canal will be filled and the opening sealed shut. Your tooth will continue to function normally, but may need a crown for additional protection and strength. A root canal will not only relieve your pain and save your tooth, it will also keep your smile healthy and protect you from the aging effects of missing teeth.

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.

If you have questions about root canal therapy or would like to schedule a consultation, please contact our office.