Root canal therapy (or endodontic treatment) is performed to save a tooth when its pulp becomes injured or infected. Dental pulp, which provides the tooth with necessary nutrients and contains the nerves, is found at the center of each tooth. When a tooth's pulp becomes damaged, the tooth can become incredibly painful and will often die if left untreated. During root canal therapy, the damaged pulp is removed and the tooth is sealed. Because of improvements in anesthetics and techniques, the old stereotype of the painful root canal is a thing of the past.
Typically, root canal therapy is performed in two visits to our Knoxville office. During the first appointment, an anesthetic is administered and the affected tooth is isolated. The tooth's pulp is removed through a holed drilled in the tooth’s crown, and the root is cleaned and shaped. A temporary filling is then placed in the hole to prevent saliva from entering the tooth. In the next visit, the temporary filling is removed, the treated inner area of the tooth is filled with a resin-like substance, and the tooth is permanently sealed with a dental crown.
Despite the reputation of root canal therapy as being a painful procedure, most patients report little or no discomfort during treatment. Patients who need a root canal generally experience more pain prior to the procedure, rather than during or after. Root canal therapy usually eliminates or significantly decreases the pain.