Endodontic therapy or root canal is a treatment option that is designed to repair and “save” a infected or damaged tooth, as an alternative to removing it. Advancements in techniques and equipment for root canals have made it a quicker, easier, and often nearly pain-free procedure.

What is a Root Canal?

Root canal treatment is a treatment option available to “save”a tooth that has sustained damage, inflammation, or infection in the pulp, deep inside the tooth. Put simply, the damaged internal sections are removed from your tooth and replaced with material to seal the tooth. In most cases a crown is placed over the tooth to protect it from further decay and damage.

What are the steps involved in a root canal?
Root canal procedures are often completed in two steps.

First, the dentist will numb the area to be treated, and will remove the inflamed or infected pulp. Your dentist will then clean and shape the inside of the tooth, and fill the space and seal the tooth. Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to help heal the infection, and will often create a temporary crown or cap for the tooth. Your dentist will provide you with post procedure instructions, which include avoiding very hot or cold food or beverages, as well as chewy or hard foods or snacks for a period of time.

In some cases, your root canal may require additional structure due to the creation of the access cavity for the root canal. “Core placement” refers to a procedure where a dentist replaces missing tooth structure in preparation for making a new dental crown. Replacing these missing portions creates the optimal foundation for the new restoration. Your dentist may recommend the placement of a dental “post” to help anchor the core material to the tooth.

Second, after the infection has cleared and the area is healing, your dentist will clean and seal the tooth again and place a permanent crown over the tooth to protect it from further damage and decay. Once the healing is complete, you should be able to return to normal use of your teeth. However, it is important to remember that dental restorations need to be proper care and maintenance to make sure they remain strong and intact.

Signs and Symptoms

It is always best to contact your dentist if you experience any of the following:
• localized pain (can be mild to severe)
• Tooth discoloration
• Swelling or irritation around a tooth
Determination of need for Root canal treatment can only be made by a dentist or endodontic specialist. Pain, swelling, tenderness in the lymph nodes, or fever may be a sign of a true dental emergency or other serious condition and should never be ignored.