Root Canal Treatment

What is a Root Canal?

Root canal treatment (or endodontic treatment) is a common dental procedure that is designed to treat problems of the soft tissue (pulp) part of the tooth.  This treatment helps our patients save or retain their natural tooth when problems are encountered with infection or dental abscesses. 

Pulp tissue, which resides in a “chamber” inside the tooth consists of blood vessels, connective tissue, and nerve tissue.  This part of the tooth can become infected in a number of ways:  untreated cavities or deep decay, chipped or cracked teeth, or trauma to the teeth (accident or sports injury).  Infection and inflammation of pulp tissue can develop when bacteria find a “pathway” to this chamber in the inner part of the tooth. 

Root Canal Symptoms

Symptoms indicating possible need of root canal treatment:

  • constant and severe pain or feeling of pressure
  • noticeable swelling and discomfort in gum tissue around tooth
  • sharp, extreme pain when biting down
  • lingering discomfort after eating hot or cold

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Root Canal Procedure

Root canal treatment actually involves removal of “diseased” pulp tissue from the tooth.  Local anesthesia is used, and frequently the procedure is no more uncomfortable than a routine filling.  During this procedure, the inner part of the tooth (pulp chamber and root canal system) are instrumented, cleansed, and disinfected to remove all pulp tissue.  Next, an inert biocompatible filling material/sealer is placed in these areas to seal and prevent further infection.  Later, to protect the tooth and restore its function, a crown is generally placed on the tooth.  Sometimes another restoration (composite, inlay or onlay) may also be indicated depending on the tooth’s previous restorative status.

Following root canal treatment, some slight sensitivity or tenderness may be noticed for a few days.  Often, over-the-counter pain relievers are more than effective for this discomfort.  Antibiotic therapy may also be used as part of the post-op regimen.


Again, root canal treatments can be very effective at helping patients avoid loss of a tooth from extraction and having to seek replacement by implant or fixed bridge procedure.