Gallery - Restorations
What is a Root canal,
and why would anyone want one?
The term "root canal" conjures terrible
images in most people's minds. You keep hearing the
horror stories about how much they hurt, or that they
didn't work, or that they are expensive. Well, think
again! Yes, a few ARE painful and difficult, but for
the most part they are the exception rather than the
rule. A vast majority go from beginning to end with
either no pain (sometimes no shot is needed), or with
minimal pain, mostly felt after the patient leaves
the office and the anesthesia has worn off.
Why Would You Need Root
Root canal treatment is needed for two main reasons:
infection or irreversible damage to the pulp. An untreated
cavity is a common cause of pulp infection. The decay
erodes the enamel and dentin of the tooth until it
opens into the root canal system, allowing bacteria
to infect the pulp. Infections inside teeth don't
respond to antibiotic treatment. The inflammation
caused by the infection restricts the tooth's blood
supply, so antibiotics in the bloodstream can't reach
the infection very well. The reduced blood supply
also limits the pulp's ability to heal itself.
The pulp also can become damaged from trauma, a fracture
or extensive restorative work, such as several fillings
placed over a period of time. Sometimes, a common
dental procedure can cause the pulp to become inflamed.
For example, preparing a tooth for a crown sometimes
leads to the need for root canal treatment.
In many cases, when the pulp is inflamed, but not
infected, it will heal and return to normal. Your
dentist may want to monitor the tooth to see if this
happens before doing root canal treatment. Sometimes,
though, the pulp remains inflamed, which can cause
pain and may lead to infection.
Once the pulp becomes infected, the infection can
affect the bone around the tooth, causing an abscess
to form. The goal of root canal treatment is to save
the tooth by removing the infected or damaged pulp,
treating any infection, and filling the empty canals
with an inert material. If root canal treatment is
not done, the tooth may have to be extracted.
It is better to keep your natural teeth if at all
possible. If a tooth is missing, neighboring teeth
can drift out of line and can be overstressed. Keeping
your natural teeth also helps you to avoid more expensive
and extensive treatments, such as implants or bridges.
If an infected or injured tooth that needs root canal
treatment is ignored, not only can you lose the tooth,
but also the infection can spread to other parts of
Having endodontic treatment on a tooth does not mean
that you'll need to have it pulled out in a few years.
The reason for doing root canal treatment is often
a large cavity. The tooth often is weakened, but if
the tooth is covered with a crown after the root canal
or, in some cases, restored with tooth-colored composite
filling material, the tooth can last the rest of your