Root Canal Therapy

Root Canal Therapy to Strengthen and Preserve Your Smile

Root canal therapy is a common dental procedure that can be performed to save an infected tooth and prevent the need for its removal. A tooth is kept alive by blood vessels found at the center of the tooth. These blood vessels, collectively with other tissues in the core called the pulp, can become damaged by trauma, deep decay, cracks, or multiple dental procedures.

Upon infection, your tooth can become more sensitive to hot and cold, exhibit a dull ache, or develop swelling near the gums. To treat the tooth, at Maple Grove Dentistry, Dr. Jensen will perform root canal therapy by removing the infected pulp, filling the tooth’s core, and sealing the tooth with a dental crown. This procedure can save your tooth, prevent further dental damage, and give you a healthier smile.

If you would like to learn more about how root canal therapy can help you, call our Boise, ID dental office at (208) 853-2221 today to schedule your consultation with Dr. Russell Jensen.


Why Do You Need Treatment?

To understand root canal therapy, it helps to understand the inner workings of the tooth. Each tooth is made up of four different layers:

  1. Enamel (outer surface)
  2. Dentin
  3. Cementum
  4. Soft pulp (inner tissue)

At the very center of the tooth is a soft tissue, often referred to as pulp. It contains blood vessels and nerve endings that travel down through your root canals. When damage and decay occur to the enamel, your dentin layer becomes exposed, triggering the blood vessels and nerve endings in the soft inner pulp. As a result, pain can radiate throughout your mouth, face, and jaw. The pain will also increase if the root or nerve endings themselves become exposed or bacteria buildup causes pressure in the tooth’s core.

Root canal therapy is necessary when infection or inflammation develops in the pulp. This typically occurs when a tooth has deep decay or been injured all the way to the root.

Signs and Symptoms

When there is deep inflammation and infection, some of the more common signs and symptoms to be aware of, include:

  • Mild to severe dental pain that throbs, radiates, or is intermittent
  • Dental sensitivity to heat or cold
  • Pain when chewing or biting down
  • Darkening or discoloration to the tooth
  • Cracked or chipped tooth
  • Chronic bad breath and/or bad taste in mouth
  • Visible infection and drainage
  • Gum tenderness and/or inflammation
  • Jaw pain
  • Fever

The moment you develop any of the above side effects, schedule an appointment with Dr. Jensen so he can save your tooth. If inflammation and infection goes untreated, it could lead to tooth loss and more serious side effects.

Step-by-Step Procedure

Root canal therapy has come a long way in treatment and technology. It is a relatively simple procedure that, in most cases, can be performed in one to two office visits. Outlined below are the steps you can expect during your procedure:

  • Step 1: Jensen will first determine the extent of damage by performing an exam with x-rays. Then he will administer a local anesthetic to numb the tooth and surrounding area. If you have any type of dental anxiety or phobia, we can also provide nitrous oxide or oral sedation to make you even more comfortable. Once you are completely numb and at ease, the procedure will begin.
  • Step 2: He will place a small protective sheet (dental dam) over the affected tooth undergoing treatment. This protects the tooth from saliva and bacteria, and also keeps the infection from spreading.
  • Step 3: A drill will be used to make a small hole in the top of the tooth in order to access the inner pulp and root canals. Using specially designed instruments, Dr. Jensen will carefully remove the infected tissue and nerves from the root canals and pulp chamber. To prepare it for restoration, he will thoroughly clean and reshape the inside of the tooth.
  • Step 4: After the tooth is cleaned and shaped, a special biocompatible material called gutta-percha will be used to fill the root canals. The placing of this rubber-like material, along with adhesive cement, will ensure the roots are completely sealed and protected from further damage and infection.
  • Step 5: To close the opening made at the top of the tooth, a temporary or permanent filling will be placed over the area to seal the hole and protect the tooth while it heals.
  • Step 6: The dental dam will then be removed and medication administered or prescribed to help prevent further infection. To ensure proper healing, be sure to follow Dr. Jensen’s at-home care instructions. You may experience minor to moderate discomfort for a few days afterwards.
  • Step 7: After you have completely healed, the final step is placing a permanent restoration, usually a dental crown, to completely seal the tooth and restore comfortable, full function.

What to Expect During and After Recovery

For the first few days after treatment, you may experience some discomfort, sensitivity, and swelling. If you carefully follow the detailed care instructions and take medications as prescribed, you should notice immediate improvement within a week. To ensure your tooth properly heals, do not chew or bite down until a dental crown has been placed.

To maintain the longevity of your restoration, it’s important to implement healthy oral hygiene. To keep further tooth decay and infection from developing, brush your teeth twice day, floss at least once a day, rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash and attend regular checkups and cleanings.

Benefits of Root Canal Therapy

Although many people fear having root canal therapy performed, it is actually very similar to having a filling placed. The primary benefits to having this treatment performed, include:

It can save your tooth.

If left untreated, a severely infected tooth could lead to a tooth extraction or cause your tooth to fall out. Missing teeth can lead to jaw recession, TMJ disorder, and dental misalignment. An infected tooth may also lead to blood-borne infection that causes whole-health issues.

It can keep you from paying for costlier procedures.

With this treatment, you could avoid costlier and more serious procedures, such as dental implants and orthodontic treatment.

It can relieve your pain.

When you’re in pain, it can affect your job performance, relationships, overall physical health, and quality of life. Just remember, the longer you avoid treatment, the more painful the treatment could become.

It can restore dental function and improve the tooth’s appearance.

When a tooth is severely decayed, fractured, or infected, not only will it cause pain and loss of dental function, but it can also lead to cosmetic concerns. A restoration will protect your tooth from further damage, restore your dental function, and reveal a healthier looking smile.

It can protect your oral health and overall physical health.

If you have a tooth that is severely infected, that infection can create an abscess and spread throughout your mouth and entire body. Some of the more common side effects include: jawbone recession, gum recession, sinus infection, heart disease, brain abscess, oral cancer, and even coma. By undergoing root canal therapy, you can protect your teeth, maintain a healthy smile, and even save your life.

Schedule Your Consultation

Are you experiencing severe dental sensitivity or a toothache? Please call our Boise, ID dental office at (208) 853-2221 today so we can help. Dr. Jensen and the caring and friendly team at Maple Grove Dentistry will ensure you receive the best care possible.