Occasionally, the nerve of the tooth becomes diseased or injured to the extent that it cannot recover and dies. In these circumstances, endodontic therapy, or a “root canal”, is usually indicated. Root canals have gotten a “bad rep”, typically because when the nerve is diseased beyond repair, the tooth can sometimes be very painful. In the past, when a tooth got to this point, the tooth used to have to be taken out, however now, root canals have been an extremely beneficial step in saving restorable teeth, and since the tooth is numb during the procedure, are relatively painless.
During the root canal procedure, the tooth is anesthetized (numb), and the diseased nerve is removed, the canals of the roots are cleaned and shaped, and a filling material is placed inside the roots to seal them off. After a tooth has had a root canal (especially a back tooth), it requires a crown to protect it, as the process of root canal therapy makes the tooth very fragile. A root canal can take between one and three visits, but Dr. Thompson can start the crown and root canal at the same time to help limit the number of individual visits to the office.