Root canal therapy

Root canal therapy removes pulp tissue from a tooth to replace it with a filling material.  It alleviates the pain and swelling associated with an abscessed tooth.   When the teeth are properly numbed a root canal is no more painful than having a filling done.

This is an x-ray of two painful teeth. Notice the dark area around the root tips. These dark spots are an infection or abscess caused by dead pulp tissue or a dead nerve. The nerve is the dark line that runs through the center of each root. To make the toothache go away the source of the pain and infection (the nerve) must be removed. We will do root canals on both of these teeth.


This x-ray was taken at the end of the appointment once the root canals were finished. The nerve and pulp tissue in the center of each tooth has been removed. The canals have been filled to the root tips with a material that appears whitish on the x-rays. The abscess in the bone surrounding the roots (the dark area) is still present, but with the source of the infection (the nerve) gone, the body’s immune system will be able eliminate the infection and heal the bone.


Six months later the bone around the roots has healed. The dark spots around the roots are gone and the bone looks as normal and healthy as the rest of the jaw. The teeth have been pain free since the root canals were done.  Notice that the top of the tooth has been restored to their proper shape and function with crowns. Once a tooth has had a root canal it becomes more brittle and at risk of breaking. A crown covers the tooth 360o to strengthen it and reduce the risk of it breaking. This patient can expect to keep these teeth for many more years.  

Once a tooth has had a root canal, it no longer has a nerve.  This means the tooth should be free of sensitivity and be painless to chew on.