Endodontics is the dental specialty that deals with spaces occupied by the pulp or neurovascular bundles within teeth. Root Canal therapy may be the most notorious procedure in dentistry but we take great pains(no pun intended :) to make it as pain-free as possible for our patients. When a tooth becomes infected it is usually due to a damaged pulp, typically either from decay, trauma or a crack. When the neurovascular pulp degenerates it can cause significant pain requiring treatment. If left untreated an infection can turn into an abscess, which is a much more serious problem that can lead to bone loss in the jaw.
The area around the tooth is profoundly numbed with a local anesthetic to begin the procedure. The dentist will then make a small opening into the top(or rear) of the tooth to access the canal(s). They will then be able to remove infected tissue and thoroughly disinfect the canal(s). After the infection has been removed, the space is filled with a biocompatible sealer. Later a filling or crown will be recommended to restore the tooth to proper function and to provide for many years of comfortable service.
"Root canal" has become a scary term for dental patients to hear, but the benefits of the procedure and advances in dental technology have made it much less "scary". Local anesthetics and proper pain medication allow the procedure to be performed with little to no pain in most cases. There may be some soreness following the procedure, but that is normal for most dental procedures. Over the counter medications like ibuprofen an tylenol are usually enough to relieve any post operative discomfort.