Root Canal Therapy

Root canal or endodontic therapy is a procedure used to save a dying or dead tooth from extraction.  While extraction used to be common practice, the cost associated with replacing a tooth with a bridge, denture, or implant is much more expensive than performing a root canal therapy and crown.  Nothing beats natural teeth in function, so it is recommended to save them whenever possible.

The pulp of a tooth serves as a lifeline for each tooth and is a combination of blood vessels, nerves, and cells.  When bacteria infect the pulp chamber, the nerve begins to die and infection can spread out of the end of the tooth root into the surrounding bone.  This process can sometimes be painful.  Sometimes, when infection is persistent and low-grade, the body reacts by creating a sinus tract or drainage pathway to the mouth.  This can taste bitter or cause an unusual smell.  These are all signs that your tooth is infected and needs to be treated with root canal or endodontic therapy.

Endodontic therapy cleans your pulp chamber and canals out, removes the bacteria and seals it from the external environment.  After the dentist cleans the canals and shapes them with special endodontic files and instruments, a plug is placed within each canal to seal it off from the outside of the tooth.  To preserve the visible part of a tooth for many years, most root canal treatments require the tooth be restored with a crown.

If a dental crown is recommended but not pursued, the tooth may fracture vertically through the root and require extraction.