Root canals

What is a root canal treatment

Root canal treatment involves the removal of the diseased pulp along with the tooth’s nerve (located within a tooth’s root canal). The pulp chamber and root canal(s) of your tooth are then cleaned, medicated and sealed. A dental crown or other restorative treatment is used to protect and strengthen the tooth.

How do you know if you need a root canal

Only an X-Ray and your dentist can tell you if you need a root canal. But if you have a single tooth that is consistently painful, especially when you bite, you definitely have a problem that needs attention.

Signs that an infected (abscessed) tooth may need a root canal

  • Pain in one tooth whenever you chew or bite down

  • A tooth that is sensitive to hot or cold

  • A tooth that is dark or discolored

  • Swollen, tender gums around a painful tooth

  • A sore on the gums that doesn’t go away

What happens after I am diagnosed

After reviewing a Digital X-ray of your tooth, your endodontist will thoroughly examine your teeth, gums and supporting bone structure, recommend a treatment plan, discuss it with you, and answer your questions. If a root canal is needed:

  • A local anesthetic is applied to the affected tooth and surrounding area
  • A small, protective sheet called a “dental dam” is used to isolate the tooth to keep it clean and free of saliva during your procedure
  • An opening is made in the top of the tooth and your endodontist will remove the soft pulp and nerve and then shape the interior for filling
  • The root canal is cleaned, medicated, and filled with a rubber-like biocompatible material (gutta percha)
  • A temporary filling is placed pending your return to your general dentist
  • Your general dentist will then place a permanent restoration, such as a crown, to protect the tooth