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Root Canals

When a dental pulp (or nerve) in a tooth is causing pain or has died, a root canal procedure will most often allow the tooth to be saved.  A root canal is initiated by gaining access to the main pulp chamber.  Once this is achieved, the individual nerve chamber located in the root (or roots) of the tooth may be instrumented with tiny files to remove and clean the debris of the pulp tissue that resides in the root.  It is important that dead pulp tissue also be removed because if it is left in the root it can become contaminated with bacteria and can lead to abscess formation.  Once the nerve chamber or “root canal” has been instrumented, cleansed and sterilized, the root chamber is filled with a non-irritating and biologically compatible material to occupy the space where the dental nerve use to be.  Once the root canals are filled, the opening where access to the nerve chamber was gained must be filled with a hard filling material.  Sometimes a post is placed in one of the root canals if it is determined that additional strength or an anchor for the filling is required.  Most often, after a root canal is completed, a crown is recommended to properly restore and protect the tooth from fracturing.  When a root canal is done the tooth remains in the mouth and jaw just like any other tooth, however it no longer has a nerve in it that can feel temperature sensation.  Since the tooth remains in the bone, the ligaments surrounding the root (the periodontal ligament) still allow for the tooth to have perception to the forces of biting, chewing and eating.