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Root Canals

When the inner nerve of a tooth becomes affected by trauma, decay, or infection, root canal therapy may be required to restore the tooth. The tooth may become extremely sensitive to both pressure and temperature and intense pain can be expected. No symptoms may be present in the initial stages. However, in the advanced stages of decay and infection an abscess (pimple-like inflammation on the gums) may form.

When confronting this type of decay or infection, the patient has two options: remove the affected tooth or save the tooth through root canal therapy. When extracting a decayed or infected tooth, significant and costly dental problems may arise for adjacent teeth. In the end, tooth extraction may cause more problems than it will solve. Root canal therapy is a desirable alternative, as it will allow you to keep your tooth.

The reasons a dentist will recommend root canal therapy include the following:

  • Decay has reached the tooth pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth)
  • Development of infection or abscess inside the tooth or at the root tip
  • Trauma or injury to the tooth

Root canal therapy has a very high success rate but there are some instances where root canal treatment may not achieve the desired result of making the tooth comfortable again or adequately resolve an infection.


Root canal procedures will usually require one or more visits to the dentist or an endodontist (root canal specialist). Using special instruments, the dentist or endodontist will remove pulp, nerve tissue, bacteria, and tooth decay (if present).

Once the nerve and canal are thoroughly cleaned, they are filled and sealed with gutta percha, a specific root canal filling material.

Depending on the tooth treated, after the root canal is finished the tooth may require filling or a post and crown to restore the tooth to function.

It is considered normal to experience some discomfort for a short time after the treatment. All this will subside as the tooth and gums heal. The doctor willgive you some care and instructions regarding how you can maintain health and functionality to your tooth, as well as recommendations on how to care for your tooth during the healing process.

To prevent any future infection and decay, good oral hygiene practices as well as regular dental visits will aid in the overall health of your mouth, and provide greater longevity in the life of your root canal treatment.