Root Canal Therapy

Having a root canal is the treatment of choice to save a tooth that would otherwise require extraction. It is needed when the nerve of the tooth is irreversibly damaged by decay, infection, or trauma.

Evidence of very rudimentary root canal treatment has been discovered from as early as ancient Egypt. Root canal therapy is highly successful. Although the procedure has a reputation for being painful, almost all root canals proceed with no discomfort.

Signs and symptoms for possible root canal therapy:

  • An abscess (or pimple) on the gums
  • Severe toothache
  • An inability to bite on the tooth
  • Swelling and/or tenderness
  • Prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Sometimes no symptoms are present and an infection is diagnosed from a routine x-ray.
What does root canal therapy involve?

Depending on the situation, we will either perform the root canal in the office or refer you to a specialist (an endodontist). A root canal usually requires one to two appointments.

Once your tooth is numb, a rubber dam (a small sheet of rubber) is placed around the tooth to isolate it from the rest of your mouth. This helps to protect you from the byproducts of the infected tooth and also makes our job easier by enhancing visibility and workability. A small hole in then made from the top of the tooth and a series of root canal files in different sizes is used to clean and disinfect the canals. X-rays are taken from time to time to determine the progress of the procedure. Once the canals are thoroughly cleaned, an inert root canal filler is used to seal the canals. A temporary filling is then placed over that.

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

All back teeth need a crown, and sometimes a post, shortly after root canal therapy to prevent the tooth from breakage and restore it to full function. For front teeth, provided enough healthy structure remains, a permanent filling is sufficient instead of a crown.


Teresa K. Yang, D.D.S. General Dentistry
1510 10th Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 458-0501