Just the thought of a root canal might make a person cringe. The truth is, though, root canal therapy saves teeth, eliminates pain, lessens sensitivity, and improves the appearance of a tooth. Root canal therapy, or endodontics, becomes necessary when pulp—the soft tissue in a tooth’s root—gets infected or inflamed. This can be caused by several things: bacteria, repeated procedures on the same tooth, chips, fractures, or even an untreated cavity. Despite its reputation, root canal therapy actually relieves pain and saves teeth.


Detecting Pulp Inflammation

The symptoms of pulp inflammation may not be obvious. But there are symptoms that should not be ignored:

  • Chronic sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Discoloration of the teeth
  • Swollen or tender gums

While these symptoms can be easy to disregard, make sure to let your dentist know if you are experiencing any of them. Early diagnosis can save a tooth and prevent more costly and uncomfortable treatments.

Root Canal Therapy

Traditionally, the pulp is removed and the canal is shaped, filled, and sealed. Molars will usually need a crown, too, because most will have serious decay and thus be compromised. Front teeth can require crowns as well.

Root canal therapy happens in the following three stages.

Endodontic Procedure

Digital scans are taken to determine the structural integrity of the tooth and diagnose the issue. If a root canal is necessary, the tooth is numbed, isolated, and opened. The pulp is cleaned, and the canal is reshaped.

Filling the Canal

A rubber-like substance called gutta-percha is used to fill the canal, which is then sealed with adhesive cement.


In some cases, a tooth does not have the structure to hold itself together after it has been cleaned. When this occurs, the core is built up, perhaps with the addition of a post. A crown may then be added to restore the look of the original tooth.

When Surgery Is Needed

If a standard root canal cannot restore the tooth, surgery may be necessary. This could happen for a few reasons:

  • A canal is blocked
  • A traditional root canal is unsuccessful
  • The root is split
  • The bone is severely inflamed

If any of these issues arises, we refer our patients to a root canal specialist.

Steamboat Dental Center Wants to Help

If you are in need of treatment for pulp inflammation or any other oral health issue, get in contact with us right away. Quick action can save teeth, save money, and save the pain and aggravation of more invasive procedures. Our experienced oral health team will determine exactly what your problem is using state-of-the-art technology and methods, giving you confidence that you are getting the treatment you need.