Atria Dental

Root Canals

Atria Dental Health Center

Root Canals

Root canal therapy is needed when the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay or infection. 

Root canal therapy is needed when the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay or infection. In order to save the tooth, the pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth), nerves, bacteria, and any decay are removed and the resulting space is filled with medicated dental materials, restoring the tooth to its full function.

A root canal is the treatment of choice to save a tooth that otherwise would die and have to be removed. Many patients believe that removing a tooth that has problems is the solution, but many do not realize that extracting (pulling) a tooth will ultimately be more costly and cause significant problems for adjacent teeth.

Root canal treatment is highly successful and usually lasts a lifetime, although on occasion, a tooth will have to be retreated due to new infections.

Signs and symptoms for possible root canal therapy:

Reasons for needing root canal therapy:

What does root canal therapy involve?

A root canal procedure requires one or more appointments and can be performed by a dentist or endodontist (a root canal specialist).

While the tooth is numb, a rubber dam (a sheet of rubber) will be placed around the tooth to keep it dry and free of saliva. An access opening is made on top of the tooth and a series of root canal files are placed into the opening, one at a time, removing the pulp, nerve tissue, and bacteria. If tooth decay is present, it will also be removed with special dental instruments.

Once the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, it will be sealed with either a permanent filling or, if additional appointments are needed, a temporary filling will be placed.

At the next appointment, usually a week later, the roots and the inside cavity of the tooth will be filled and sealed with special dental materials. A filling will be placed to cover the opening on top of the tooth. In addition, all teeth that have root canal treatment should have a crown (cap) placed. This will protect the tooth and prevent it from breaking, restoring it to its full function.

After treatment, your tooth may still be sensitive, but this will subside as the inflammation diminishes and the tooth heals.

You will be given care instructions after each appointment. Good oral hygiene practices and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your root canal treatment.


Root Canal Therapy

You will receive care instructions for veneers. Proper brushing, flossing and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new veneers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Root canals are a common, standard procedure for saving infected teeth, with more than 15 million performed every year in the U.S. This means the average endodontist—a root canal specialist—performs approximately 25 root canals every week!


As with most dental care, root canals have evolved dramatically over the decades, now boasting a 95% success rate. Properly performed root canal treatments can ensure the repaired tooth lasts a lifetime with little to no additional future dental work required.

Because of the local anesthesia, your mouth will be numb for 2-4 hours following a root canal procedure, though most patients return to work or school the same day. The best way to recover from a root canal is to treat any sensitivity or discomfort with over-the-counter pain medications like naproxen or ibuprofen and to avoid eating anything until the numbness is entirely gone to prevent damaging the newly-repaired tooth without knowing it. Continue with good oral care, including brushing and flossing; attend all follow-up appointments; and keep regular bi-annual cleaning and exam appointments.

Root canal treatment is extremely safe and effective, especially when performed by a trained endodontic specialist (a dental professional who specializes in root canals). Root canals have been performed for over 200 years, and advancements in technology, instruments, techniques, disinfectants, and pain management continue to make the treatment even more predictable and successful. Root canals are intended solely to preserve a natural tooth and prevent any reinfection and are much safer than the alternative to an infected tooth—tooth extraction.

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