Tooth decay, trauma or cracks can cause the nerves of teeth to die. When this occurs your tooth can often still be saved with root canal therapy. Severe pain, swelling, sensitivity to hot or cold, or a darkening tooth, are signs that a root canal problem exists.

The purpose of root canal therapy is to eliminate tooth pain.

Symptoms that might indicate the need for root canal therapy include:

  • Significant, constant pain, including pain that can wake you up at night
  • Increased symptoms specifically when you lie down,
  • Significant sensitivity to hot or cold
  • A darkening of the color of only one tooth, or,
  • sthe appearance of a pimple or fistula in the gum.

A tooth might need root canal therapy even in the absence of any pain. This can occur if the damage to the nerve is so severe that all sensation of pain is lost. Root canal therapy may still be indicated to prevent the spread of infection, asymptomatically, in the surrounding jawbone.

The two main objectives of root canal therapy are:

  • To clean out diseased tissue and bacteria from within the tooth
  • To completely fill the internal hollow root. There are many techniques and materials available to accomplish this. Some of these techniques allow the dentist to quickly, yet incompletely, fill the internal hollow root and can be the cause of future problems. It's better to get something done right the first time.

Root canal therapy is NOT painful when properly performed in a tooth that has not yet reached the point of becoming a painful emergency. Some people mistakenly wait until they have severe pain before seeking root canal therapy. They are the cause of the pain, not the procedure itself. An important lesson is therefore to seek out root canal therapy if you think a tooth is becoming more symptomatic; don't wait for the emergency.