Root Canal Therapy


Root canal therapy is a dental procedure we perform to remove the source of infection from the inside of a tooth. Infected tooth pulp can not heal on its own; it should not be ignored. Our crew at Westlake Oral and Plastic Surgery will review the trouble area and determine if root canal therapy is the right course of action, we can then discuss your options.

Tooth Pain or Sensitivity


The hard outer layer of your teeth, known as enamel, does not send a message of pain. It is the hard inner layer, known as dentin, that signals pain. When bacteria have reached the dentin layer, it can be problematic if not taken care of. Dentin surrounds the inner pulp layer. If the pulp becomes infected, it cannot heal on its own. If the bacteria is left in place, it will continue to attack the tooth, bone, and can spread to neighboring teeth, destroying the teeth and bone as it rages. The effects can range from discomfort to severe pain, what you feel depends on your pain tolerance. Your body may respond with the growth of cysts, but it can not separate the source of infection from your tooth.

Root Canal Therapy Procedure


The pulp that has become infected needs to be removed. The phrase, root canal, can bring up feelings of anxiety or fear in many patients, they are afraid it’s going to hurt. The truth is that the procedure does not cause pain, it releases the pain by exposing the infection that is already brewing. We begin every root canal procedure by considering the patient’s comfort. Most patients find a local anesthetic to be sufficient, but we also have conscious sedation options available when needed, including nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas.

Once the patient is comfortable, the root canal procedure can begin, we will:

•  Create an Opening in the Tooth: The most common cause of infected pulp is a deep cavity caused by decay. We will remove the decayed portion of the tooth and remove tooth material to gain access to the pulp.
•  Remove Pulp: The pulp, or inner portion, of the tooth, was needed when the tooth was growing. Once the tooth is fully grown, it is ok to remove the pulp. Infected pulp can not heal, we remove all of it hoping that we are also removing the source of the infection. The pulp will include blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue.
•  Cleanse the Root Canal: After removing the pulp, we then take time to clean the root with an antibacterial wash. This cleansing is done as an additional step to removing all infected material.
•  Fill the Root: The root is then filled with a medicated rubber material known as gutta-percha, along with a dental cement covering the top.
•  Cap the Tooth: The tooth is now clear of decay, but all of this work has weakened the structure. We will recommend a dental crown to encase and protect the tooth. A dental crown will extend the life of the now weakened tooth significantly.


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