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Root Canal Therapy


Diagram of tooth showing tooth rootSeveral decades ago, a tooth in which infection had spread to the pulp, was often removed. Today, thanks to root canal therapy, Tualatin Family & Cosmetic Dentistry has a way to save your permanent teeth.

What is Root Canal Therapy?


The term “root canal therapy” comes from cleaning out the canals of the tooth root. It is a treatment employed to save a badly damaged or decayed tooth instead of extracting it.

The tooth pulp is a soft tissue that contains connective tissues, nerves, and blood vessels. It lies inside the tooth chamber and extends from the crown to the tip of the tooth root embedded in the jaw bone. When a tooth becomes cracked, or a deep cavity appears in its surface, infection can get inside the tooth and into the pulp. When the pulp is diseased or damaged, it cannot heal itself. Left untreated, pus starts to build up in the root tip forming an abscess. This abscess or tooth pocket can damage the bone structure around the tooth. As a result, your tooth may have to be removed.

Is Root Canal Therapy Painful?


Many people fear that root canal therapy will be painful. This was, in fact, quite true in the past. These days, however, thanks to modern anesthesia and advancement in surgical techniques, a root canal is just as comfortable as getting a filling.

How Root Canal Therapy Works


Root canal therapy essentially consists of four main steps that are completed during two visits. Before starting the treatment, Dr. Emerson Rowley, DMD will take x-rays of your mouth to examine the condition of the tooth.
•  Using a fine needle, we will administer a local anesthetic to numb the tooth and its surrounding area. Once the site is numb, we will place a dental dam to isolate your tooth from others to keep it free of saliva.
•  We will then use very small and fine tools, such as a dental drill, to bore a hole on the crown of your tooth to access the dental pulp. Next, we will use small files to remove the infected pulp from the tooth chamber. This process is called the pulpectomy. We will also use the tools to shape the inside of the tooth and root and then irrigate the area to wash away any remaining debris. Then we will pack the chamber with an antibacterial agent to kill bacteria and reduce the risk of infection.
•  Once the chamber is cleaned up, we will place a putty-like material called gutta-percha into the root canals and seal them with cement. A temporary filling is placed on the open tooth to protect it from infection while you wait for the permanent crown to be fabricated.
•  After a few weeks, we will finish your treatment by removing the temporary filling and fixing the permanent crown on top of it, by restoring your tooth’s natural appearance and function.
•  Depending on the condition of your tooth, we may also opt to put in a small metal post to support the crown.

How Root Canal Therapy Aftercare


Good oral hygiene at home is essential after root canal therapy. You will also need to schedule another visit with us so that we can x-ray your tooth and ensure all the infection is gone. Additionally, it is also important to keep your biannual dental checkup appointments. With proper care, a tooth treated with root canal can stay healthy for the rest of your life.

If you suspect your tooth is infected, call us at (503) 878-7474 to get an appointment today.
Tualatin Family & Cosmetic Dentistry

(503) 878-7474
8555 SW Tualatin Rd, Tualatin, OR

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