Actual Procedure

Root canal therapy is needed when the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay, infection, a tooth crack or chronic physical trauma.  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 inside the roots is filled with gutta-percha.

Having a root canal done on a tooth could save the tooth (not guaranteed) so that it will not have to be removed. For the few patients opting for this treatment, at COSMETIC, LASER AND CEREC DENTISTRY, we do have state of the art technology to increase the chance of success. 

Signs and symptoms for possible root canal therapy:

  • An abscess (or pimple) on the gums.
  • Lasting Sensitivity to hot and cold.
  • Severe toothache pain.
  • Sometimes no symptoms are present.
  • Swelling and/or tenderness.

Reasons for root canal therapy:

  • Decay has reached the tooth pulp (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 (a sheet of rubber) has to be placed around the tooth to keep it dry and free of saliva.  An access opening that weakens the tooth considerably, is made on top of the tooth and a series of root canal files of increasing diameter are placed into the opening, removing the pulp, nerve tissue, and bacteria from the main canal(s).

Once the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, it will be sealed with either a permanent filling or, if additional appointments are needed, a temporary filling will be placed.

At the next appointment, usually a week later, the roots and the inside cavity of the tooth will be filled and sealed.  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 to protect from bacterial contamination comming from the oral environtment and prevent the tooth from breaking, and restore it to its full function.

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Photo 1 In teeth with more than one root, each root has its own canal that extends from the single pulp chamber


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Photo 2 Toxins from pulp bacteria cause inflammation in the bone
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Photo 3. A series of files are used to clean and then shape the canals

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Photo 4 The canals are now prepared (shaped) to receive the root canal filling

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Photo 5 The dentist now packs the Remaining portion of each canal with gutta-percha pieces up to the level of the pulp chamber.

After treatment, your tooth may still be sensitive, 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.

Please read the next page on toxicity of Root Canal Treatment.