Endodontic (Root Canal) Therapy

Root canal therapy, also called endodontic treatment, is necessary when the nerve of a tooth is irreversibly affected by decay, infection, or trauma. Endodontic treatment provides the last opportunity to save some teeth that would otherwise require extraction. Despite how good I am at restoring lost teeth with dental implants, fixed bridges, or partial dentures, your first choice, if possible, should always be to save your natural tooth. There is no dentistry as good as your natural tooth!

Root canal therapy involves accessing and removing the affected nerve, including the soft tissue in the canals of the tooth’s roots, and cleaning, shaping, and disinfecting the residual spaces. To seal out invading bacteria a filling material is then placed to fill and seal the created spaces. At this point the tooth is no longer vital and can become brittle. To protect against the inevitable fracturing of the treated tooth a crown will be necessary.

Despite the reputation that root canal therapy has, my patients typically experience minimal discomfort throughout the procedure. I can usually complete the treatment in only one appointment.

Root canal treatment is highly successful, although on occasion, a tooth may require retreatment due to new or persistent residual bacterial infection. Root canaled teeth can also be lost to worsening or untreatable tooth fractures.


Signs and symptoms for possible endodontic (root canal) therapy:

  • Spontaneous shooting pain
  • Extreme sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Chronic toothache pain
  • Bite sensitivity
  • Abscess (looks like a pimple) on the gums or generalized swelling
  • Discoloration or darkening of a tooth


Indications for endodontic (root canal) therapy:

  • Decay has penetrated to the tooth pulp (living tissue inside the tooth)
  • Injury or trauma to the tooth
  • Deep fractures involving the tooth pulp (living tissue inside the tooth)
  • Bacterial infection or abscess has developed inside the tooth or at the root tip
  • Spontaneous death of a tooth
  • Intentional root canal to support necessary additional restorative procedures