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Root canal therapy is required when a tooth is traumatized, or when a crack or tooth decay allow bacteria to infect the pulp in the center of the tooth.  Like taking the lead out of a lead pencil and leaving the wood portion, during root canal therapy the infected pulp is removed, the canal in which it is housed is carefully shaped, and lastly a stable filling material is placed in the space where the pulp used to be. 

A common misconception is that root canal therapy is a painful procedure.  The vast majority of root canals are accomplished comfortably with minimal post-operative discomfort.

A tooth may need root canal therapy if you experience one or more of the following:

  • Severe or lingering tooth pain to hot or cold
  • A vague ache in part of the jaw 
  • Swelling in the gums near a tooth
  • Tooth pain while chewing
  • A whitish "pimple" in the gums that seems to come and go
  • If you tap your teeth together and one tooth feels "higher" than the others
  • Tooth pain that wakes you from a sound sleep
  • A traumatized front tooth that then becomes darker

The root canal procedure involves the following steps:

  • The tooth is anesthetized (numbed)
  • A dental dam is used to isolate the tooth
  • A small opening is made in the tooth so the infected "pulp" can be removed
  • The canals are meticulously cleaned
  • The canals are shaped to the desired diameter
  • A biocompatible filling material is placed into the space where the "pulp" used to be
  • A temporary covering is placed to seal the access opening and prevent reinfection
  • MOST root canal treated teeth require a crown after root canal therapy is completed

As with any dental procedure, your doctor may refer you to a root canal specialist (endodontist) to complete the root canal if it is determined you will have a higher success rate in doing so. Your well-being is our top priority.