Root Canal Therapy

Root canal therapy is a dental procedure that treats infected or damaged pulp tissue within a tooth's root canal system. It involves the removal of the infected or inflamed pulp, cleaning and disinfecting the canal, and sealing it to prevent further infection.

The procedure begins with administering local anesthesia to ensure comfort, and then our dentist in Austin, TX, drills into the tooth to access the pulp chamber and canals. After cleaning out the infected tissue and shaping the canal, the tooth is filled with a biocompatible material, typically gutta-percha, and sealed to prevent bacteria from re-entering. Root canal therapy aims to save the natural tooth, alleviate pain, and restore functionality and is often followed by the placement of a dental crown to strengthen the tooth structure.

South Austin Dental Associates
South Austin Dental Associates

Did you know that according to the American Association of Endodontists, the success rate for root canal therapy is approximately 95%?

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Preparation and Evaluation

Our dentist will begin by numbing the area around the affected tooth using local anesthesia to ensure you are comfortable during the procedure. X-rays may also be taken to assess the extent of damage to the tooth and to determine the number and shape of root canals.

Accessing the Root Canal

Once the area around the tooth is numb, the dentist isolates it with a dental dam to keep it dry and clean. Next, the dentist carefully accesses the pulp chamber and root canals of the affected tooth through a small opening in the crown.

Cleaning and Shaping

Using specialized instruments, our dentist will carefully remove the infected or damaged pulp tissue from the pulp chamber and root canals. The canals are then cleaned and shaped to remove any remaining debris and to prepare them for filling.

Filling and Sealing

After the root canals have been cleaned, they are filled with a biocompatible material called gutta-percha to prevent reinfection and provide structural support to the tooth. The opening in the crown of the tooth is sealed with a filling material to prevent bacteria from entering the tooth.


In some cases, a temporary filling may be placed until a permanent restoration, such as a dental crown, can be placed to protect and strengthen the tooth. Our dentist will provide instructions for post-operative care and may prescribe pain medication or antibiotics, if necessary, to ensure a smooth recovery.

The Benefits of Root Canal Therapy

One of the most significant benefits of root canal therapy in Austin, TX, is its ability to save your natural tooth from extraction. Extraction may seem like the only solution when the pulp inside a tooth becomes infected or damaged due to deep decay, cracks, or trauma. However, root canal therapy offers a viable alternative. Removing the infected pulp, cleaning the root canal, and sealing it to prevent re-infection allows you to retain your natural tooth, maintaining the integrity of your smile and preserving proper chewing function.

Root canal infections can cause excruciating pain and discomfort, often making simple tasks like eating or drinking unbearable. Root canal therapy provides much-needed relief by addressing the underlying cause of the pain. Removing the infected or inflamed pulp tissue eliminates the source of the discomfort, allowing you to enjoy a pain-free smile once again. Moreover, the procedure is performed under local anesthesia, ensuring you remain comfortable throughout the treatment process.

Left untreated, root canal infections can lead to severe complications, including abscess formation, bone loss, and even systemic health issues. Root canal therapy helps prevent these complications by effectively removing the infection and restoring the tooth's health. The risk of future infection or damage is significantly reduced by sealing off the root canal and strengthening the tooth with a dental crown. Additionally, preserving the natural tooth through root canal therapy eliminates the need for more extensive and costly dental procedures, such as tooth replacement with dental implants or bridges.

Root canal therapy not only saves individual teeth but also contributes to supporting overall oral health. By eliminating infection and restoring the affected tooth's functionality, root canal therapy helps maintain proper dental hygiene and prevents the spread of bacteria to neighboring teeth. Moreover, preserving natural teeth through root canal therapy supports the integrity of the jawbone and surrounding dental structures, preserves facial aesthetics, and prevents issues like shifting teeth or bite problems.

In cases where multiple teeth are severely compromised or missing, extraction may be necessary to prepare for dentures or dental implants. Removing damaged or unhealthy teeth creates space for the placement of prosthetic devices, allowing for improved aesthetics, function, and overall oral health.

Wisdom teeth, known as third molars, typically erupt during late adolescence or early adulthood. However, due to limited space in the jaw, they may become impacted, meaning they cannot fully emerge from the gums. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause pain, infection, and damage to adjacent teeth. Extracting impacted wisdom teeth is often recommended to alleviate discomfort and prevent potential complications.

One of the primary reasons for tooth extractions in Austin, TX, is severe decay. When tooth decay progresses to an advanced stage, it can compromise the tooth's structural integrity, making it impossible to salvage through conventional treatments like fillings or root canals. In such cases, extraction becomes necessary to prevent the spread of infection and preserve oral health.

South Austin Dental Associates

Did you know that advancements in anesthesia and technology have made root canal therapy relatively comfortable for patients?

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Frequently Asked Questions About Root Canal Treatment

  • What is root canal treatment?

    Root canal treatment, also known as endodontic therapy, is a dental procedure used to treat infections or damage within the tooth's pulp (the innermost part of the tooth containing nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue). The procedure involves removing the infected or damaged tissue, cleaning and shaping the root canals, and sealing them to prevent further infection.

  • Why might I need a root canal?

    You may need a root canal if you have a tooth with deep decay, a cracked or fractured tooth, repeated dental procedures on the same tooth, or trauma to the tooth. These issues can lead to infection or inflammation within the tooth's pulp, causing pain, swelling, or an abscess.

  • Is root canal treatment painful?

    Contrary to common misconceptions, root canal treatment is not typically painful. Your dentist or endodontist will administer local anesthesia to numb the area around the affected tooth, ensuring you are comfortable during the procedure. You may experience some discomfort or soreness afterward, but this can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain medication.

  • How long does a root canal procedure take?

    The duration of a root canal procedure varies depending on factors such as the location and complexity of the tooth being treated, as well as the presence of any complications. In general, a root canal treatment can be completed in one to two appointments, with each appointment lasting about 60 to 90 minutes.

  • Will I need a crown after a root canal?

    In many cases, a dental crown is recommended following root canal treatment to protect and strengthen the tooth. Since a tooth that has undergone root canal therapy is more prone to fracture, a crown helps restore its shape, appearance, and function while also providing added protection against future damage.

  • How successful is root canal treatment?

    Root canal treatment has a high success rate, with studies showing success rates of over 95%. However, the success of the treatment depends on various factors, such as the extent of infection, the quality of the treatment, and how well you follow post-operative care instructions.

  • Is there an alternative to root canal treatment?

    The main alternative to root canal treatment is tooth extraction. However, preserving natural teeth through root canal therapy is generally preferred whenever possible, as it maintains the integrity of the dental arch and prevents the need for tooth replacement options such as dental implants or bridges.

South Austin Dental Associates

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