Root canal therapy is a procedure that is needed when the pulp, or nerve, of a tooth becomes infected and inflamed. The pulp’s soft tissue contains the blood supply and the nerve. Damage to this area sometimes occurs due to deep dental decay, fracture, injury, or trauma. If a tooth becomes injured or diseased, bacteria can build up inside the pulp, spreading infection from the natural crown of the tooth to the root tips or even the jawbone. The infection accumulates at the ends of the roots, forming a painful abscess which can damage the bone that supports the surrounding teeth. This can often be very painful, but sometimes it happens so gradually that it is not noticeable.
We can typically perform root canal therapy in our office, but we do occasionally have to refer patients to an endodontist to have the procedure done. Root canal therapy is performed under local anesthesia. During this procedure, the damaged pulp is removed. The area is then filled and sealed. The tooth is protected by a temporary filling until permanent restoration can be made. Once the root canal is completed and some time has passed to show the root canal was successful, a crown will need to be placed over the tooth to protect it.