Central Penn Endo with Drs. Jason Devey and Brett Cole in Camp Hill, PA
Root Canal Therapy

What is Root Canal Therapy?

When the pulp (also referred to as "the nerve") of a tooth becomes diseased (inflamed, infected or abscessed) root canal therapy is necessary to save the tooth. The pulp can become diseased as a result of combined injuries that occur over the life of the tooth such as deep decay, a cracked tooth, or trauma to the tooth. The alternative to root canal therapy is an extraction.

During Root Canal Therapy, the tooth is anesthetized or "numbed" (just like having a filling). Then the unhealthy pulp tissue is removed and the canal system is cleaned and disinfected. The canal system is then dried and filled with an inert material leaving the tooth and tooth root (minus the diseased pulp) in your jaw so it can fully function as before.

A tooth that has undergone Root Canal Therapy will often have cusps that need support to avoid fracturing off. A crown will protect the cusps and remaining tooth structure. Your general dentist will provide the crown or other final restoration after the root canal therapy is completed.

Once the root canal is completed, the tooth should be cared for in the same way as all other natural teeth. Brush three times and floss once daily, and visit your dentist for regular preventive dental check-ups.

Modern Root Canal Therapy

Healthy Tooth The way root canal therapy is performed today is vastly different than those done a few years ago, not to mention a decade ago. The potential level for quality care has dramatically increased. It is a thing of the past to do root canals in five to six appointments, or by "touch or feel" because we could not see. Root canals can be done painlessly, faster, and more accurately due to the new technology available.

Non-surgical Root Canal Therapy

Decayed ToothRoot Canal Therapy is a dental procedure, performed with local anesthetic, which involves the removal of the pulp (aka "nerve") inside of the tooth because it has become irreversibly damaged or infected. This irreversible damage is a result of combined injuries that occur over the life of the tooth (decay, trauma, multiple restorations). Root canal therapy is the removal of the entire pulp throughout the root canal system (a tooth can have several roots and a canal or two within those roots), the cleaning and shaping of the canal system, and filling the canals with a root canal filling material and a dental sealer.This is usually due to the effects of oral bacteria on the soft tissue of the tooth which is called the dental pulp (nerve). Recall that the pulp is the living part of the tooth which makes the dentin, the body of the tooth. Cementum covers the outside of the root and enamel is the white hard shell of the crown of the tooth.

ROOT CANAL is a commonly used term for endodontic therapy or root canal therapy. This procedure involves the removal of the entire pulp within the root canal system. It involves cleaning, shaping and filling of the canal system with a root canal filling material bonded to the dentin with a sealer. The procedure enables you to keep your natural tooth, which is most times preferable to an artificial replacement.

What Happens During Root Canal Therapy?

Root Canal Therapy

Step one:

After the tooth is "numbed", a small opening is made into the pulp chamber. The canals are located and measured, so they can be cleansed and shaped.

Step two:

The canals are filled with a root canal filling called gutta percha and the opening is sealed with sterile cotton pellets and a temporary filling.

Temporary Filling


Step three:

The tooth should be restored within a couple of weeks. Your general dentist will usually place a crown over the treated tooth in order to protect it, and if the tooth lacks sufficient tooth structure to hold the core build-up, a post may be placed inside. Any areas of infection around the roots will begin to heal. We will check on the progress of that healing at 6 month when we ask you to return for a free "recall" visit.

The number of visits necessary to complete a root canal will vary depending upon the degree of infection, the number of canals in the tooth, if the canals are calcified, the anatomy of your tooth, and the complexity of the procedure. We always strive to achieve the best possible result; therefore, your treatment may take one visit, or it may take more.