Root Canal Treatment

Root canal treatment is required 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.

Root canal treatment is the treatment of choice to save a tooth which otherwise would die and have to be removed. Many patients believe that extraction of the teeth will be the perfect solution, but what is not realized is that extracting a tooth will ultimately be costlier 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
  • Severe toothache pain
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Swelling and/or tenderness
  • Sometimes no symptoms are present

Reasons for root canal therapy:

  • Decay has reached 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.While the tooth is numb, a rubber dam 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, and bacteria and if there is a decay present it will also be removed.

Once the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, it will be sealed with either a permanent filling or, most of the time a temporary filling will be placed and additional appointments will be reserved.

At the next appointment, usually a week later, the roots and the inside cavity of the tooth will be filled and sealed with special dental materials. A filling will be placed to cover the opening on top of the tooth. In addition, all teeth that have root canal treatment should have a crown (cap) placed. This will protect the tooth and prevent it from breaking, and restore it to its full function.

Your tooth may still be sensitive after the treatment 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.

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