Root Canal Treatment

Root canal therapy is treatment used to repair and save a tooth that has been infected due to a deep cavity or deep crack.  The treatment involves removing the nerve and blood supply (i.e. the pulp) within the tooth and cleaning the infected area.  If an infected or inflammed pulp is not removed, pus can build up at the end of the root and the infection can spread to the surrounding bone.  This results in pain and swelling and if left untreated may result in extraction of the tooth.

Signs that you may need root canal treatment include severe spontaneous tooth pain, pain that awakens you, lingering sensitivity to temperature, tooth discoloration and swollen gums around the tooth.

During root canal treatment, we prep out decay in the crown of the tooth into the pulp chamber.  Once the pulp is removed, the root canals are cleaned and disinfected.  After the canals are thoroughly cleaned we condense a thermoplastic material into the canals to fill and seal off the tooth.  In cases of severe infection, we may prescribe an antibiotic to aid in the healing of the tooth.  At times, this treatment may require multiple appointments in which a temporary filling is placed to protect the tooth between visits.

Root canal therapy has a high rate of success and many teeth undergoing the procedure can be saved to last a lifetime.  Additionally, the crown placed after the completion of the procedure will protect the tooth and make it hard to notice that you had the treatment.


Usually done on a badly decayed deciduous (baby) tooth, a pulpotomy removes the pulp tissue from the coronal part of the tooth leaving tissue in the roots.  Since baby teeth will usually shed, complete root canal treatment often isn't required.  A medicament is applied to "fix" the pulp tissue in the canals and then a restorative material is placed.  This allows a child to keep a deciduous tooth in place until the permanent tooth is ready to grow in.