Cosmetic & Family Dentistry

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Root Canal Therapy -  Endodontics

Progression of Decay into the pulp and to the apex (root end) of the tooth over time

1: Decay- unrestored

2: Large amalgam

3: Restored w/ Root canal, Core buildup & Crown

Root canal, or endodontic therapy is the treatment of an inflamed or dying  nerve inside your tooth.  Teeth have a series of nerves and arteries that hydrate, deliver nutrients, and detect temperature changes.  When a tooth is traumatized by an accident, decay or an infection, the tooth responds by becoming inflamed, swollen or very sensitive. Root canal therapy relieves pain from the infection.

At first, the tooth may be sensitive to cold, sometimes even heat, and as it worsens, the tooth becomes sensitive to biting down.  Usually at this point it means that the inflammation and infection from the bacteria present in the mouth, has gone down through the root canals, exiting at the end of the root of the tooth.  This makes the surrounding area very tender and sore to biting pressure,  especially at the end of the root.  Sometimes the infection is very aggressive and can cause the person's face, or worse the neck to become swollen.  This is a true dental emergency and should be treated with antibiotics and root canal therapy without delay. 

Root canal therapy removes the old, dying nerve and sterilizes the inside of the tooth.  Then it is filled with a rubbery material (gutta percha) that seals it off from the surrounding tissues.  This procedure is done under local anesthesia, or sedation if necessary.  All teeth that have had root canal therapy need to be crowned. A crown is a protective covering that distributes forces over the whole tooth and helps to prevent fracture.  Statistics show that when people delay in having the crown placed, after having a root canal, they will lose their tooth within 3-5 years.  Ideally the crown should be prepared within the first 2-4 weeks to avoid potential fracture.   The goal is to preserve & protect your tooth.

​​Angela Hilton-Foley, DMD

(813) 891-1212