Root canal therapy is treatment used to repair and save a tooth that has been damaged or infected due to a deep cavity, a cracked tooth, or tooth trauma. The treatment involves removing the pulp of the tooth which contains the tooth’s nerve and blood supply, and cleaning the infected area. The pulp is most important during the formation of teeth, but provides sensation, support, and nourishment throughout the life of the tooth. While these functions are lost following damage and infection, root canal therapy allows for preservation of the tooth’s hard structure.  If the treatment is not performed, pus builds up at the root tip and the infection of the pulp can spread to the surrounding bone. This results in pain and swelling as well as bone loss, and can ultimately lead to the loss of the tooth.

What Are the Signs That a Root Canal is Needed?

  • Severe tooth pain while chewing
  • Your tooth pain wakes you up at night
  • Teeth that are highly sensitive to hot or cold, with the sensitivity lingering for some time.
  • Discoloration or darkening of the tooth
  • Swollen gums in the area of the infected tooth

What does the treatment involve?
The first and most important part of the process is achieving profound tooth anesthesia.  This allows for ideal patient comfort during the procedure. Following tooth anesthesia, an opening is made into the pump chamber through the crown of the tooth. Once the pulp is removed, the root canal system is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Some root canal procedures are able to be completed in one visit.  If this is the case, then a permanent filling material is placed in the canals of the tooth and then the tooth is sealed.  Other times the procedure requires that we first place special medication in the root canal system and allow a certain amount of time for that medication to permeate the tooth. Once that has taken place, the procedure is finalized in the same manner as the one-visit procedure at the second visit.

Root canal therapy has a high rate of success and many teeth undergoing the procedure can be saved to last a lifetime.  In order to ensure the longevity of this success, a permanent restoration, either a filling or crown, is fabricated for the tooth after the completion of root canal therapy.