Practicing conservative and comprehensive dentistry, our dentists take all measures necessary to save diseased and injured teeth. In most instances, retaining biological tooth structure is best for a patient’s oral health and wellbeing when a tooth is salvageable. One way to preserve natural tooth structure, even in severely damaged teeth, is to perform root canal therapy. This treatment addresses issues that affect the inside of teeth.

The Root Canal

The root canal is a part of tooth anatomy. Inside the roots of teeth are small, chamber-like areas where the nerves end. The root canal also houses dental pulp – a substance that contains cellular material. If a tooth is diseased or damaged, the root canal can become exposed to irritants, debris, and bacteria.

When the root canal is exposed due to a broken or diseased tooth, it is very susceptible to infection since it is no longer protected from irritants and bacteria. If the contents of the root canal (the nerve endings and dental pulp) become infected, patients normally experience toothaches and pain when biting on food or drinking cold or hot beverages.

Treating an Infected Root Canal

When a root canal becomes infected, patients need to receive treatment as soon as possible. This is because an infected root canal threatens the livelihood of a tooth as well as surrounding oral tissues. Infected root canals can lead to the death of a tooth or the development of a painful and damaging infection called an abscess.

Root canal therapy accomplishes two objectives: it saves the tooth from surgical removal and restores a patient’s ability to chew food comfortably. Endodontic treatment involves accessing the root canal with small, tiny tools and removing its infected material. Once the nerves and the dental pulp are removed, the root canal is flushed of all debris and sealed with a compound called gutta-percha so that the inside of the tooth remains structurally strong and protected from future damage.

After root canal treatment, some patients may require a restoration like a filling or dental crown. A restoration will protect external tooth structure. Receiving root canal therapy is not uncomfortable and most patients report that the sensation they feel is no different from receiving a standard filling.

For more information about root canal treatment, call our friendly team at Tate Family Dentistry.

Common Questions

What is a root canal?

The root canal is a part of a tooth’s anatomy. It is a hollowed chamber-like area deep within a tooth. Inside the root canal is cellular material called dental pulp and nerve endings. The contents of the root canal are necessary when teeth are still developing. However, once teeth are fully developed, the material inside the root canal is not necessary for optimal oral function and health.

If a tooth is damaged by deep decay, cracks, or chips, it becomes exposed to bacteria and debris, which can inflame and infect the nerve endings inside teeth. If this occurs, patients will need endodontic therapy or “root canal treatment” to remove the infected material inside a tooth so that a tooth does not become abscessed.  

Having root canal therapy saves teeth from extraction. This treatment will remove infected material deep within the tooth so that patients do not experience discomfort associated with infected nerve endings. The inside of the root canal, once the nerves and pulp are removed, is flushed of debris and sealed so that future complications do not develop.

Does a root canal hurt?

When performing root canal therapy, patients will be given local anesthetics and in many cases, nitrous oxide. Local anesthetic prevents nerve endings from relaying messages of discomfort to the brain. This allows patients to receive treatment without discomfort. Nitrous oxide gas is a fast-acting analgesic that produces mild feelings of euphoria and relaxation. Our mission is to ensure that our guests have positive and comfortable treatment experiences. After receiving root canal therapy, our patients report that their experience is about the same as receiving a filling.

How long is the root canal recovery time?

Recovering from a root canal treatment is relatively quick. Most people resume normal activities like work or school the day after the procedure.

What is the cost of a root canal?

The cost of root canal therapy varies due to a couple different factors. First, the type of tooth being treated can affect the cost and secondly, whether a person has dental insurance. Dental insurance coverage depends on the carrier and type of plan a person has. We recommend speaking with our staff for estimates after a consultation with our dentist.