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Contact Us:

Redmond Medical Center
8301 161st Ave NE, #305
Redmond, WA 98052

425.885.5529 (p)
425.885.2024 (f)

Office Hours:

Mon-Thurs:  8am - 5pm


Brian J Dillon DDS PLLC is a BBB Accredited Dentist in Redmond, WA

Root Canals


A root canal is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or becomes infected. During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp are removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed. Without treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth will become infected and abscesses may form.

"Root canal" is the term used to describe the natural cavity within the center of the tooth. The pulp or pulp chamber is the soft area within the root canal. The tooth's nerve lies within the root canal.

A tooth's nerve is not vitally important to a tooth's health and function after the tooth has emerged through the gums. Its only function is sensory - to provide the sensation of hot or cold. The presence or absence of a nerve will not affect the day-to-day functioning of the tooth.

Why Does Tooth Pulp Need to Be Removed?

When a tooth's nerve tissue or pulp is damaged, it breaks down and bacteria begin to multiply within the pulp chamber. The bacteria and other decayed debris can cause an infection or abscessed tooth. An abscess is a pus-filled pocket that forms at the end of the roots of the tooth. An abscess occurs when the infection spreads all the way past the ends of the roots of the tooth. In addition to an abscess, an infection in the root canal of a tooth can cause:

What Damages a Tooth's Nerve and Pulp in the First Place?

A tooth's nerve and pulp can become irritated, inflamed, and infected due to deep decay, repeated dental procedures on a tooth, and/or large fillings, a crack or chip in the tooth, or trauma to the face.

What Are the Signs That a Root Canal Is Needed?

Sometimes no symptoms are present; however, signs you may need a root cancal include:

What Happens During a Root Canal?

A root canal typically requires one or more office visits. During your first visit, Dr. Dillon will take an x-ray to assess the damaged tooth evaluating the roots of the affected area and the surrounding bone. If the root is infected or injured, then a root canal may be inevitable.

Once it is properly assessed that a root canal is necessary, the dentist will numb the area near the tooth. Anesthesia may not be necessary, since the nerve is dead, but this may help you feel more relaxed and at ease. The dentist will then drill an access hole into the tooth to remove the pulp along with the bacteria and decayed nerve tissue. Once the tooth is thoroughly cleaned,it is then sealed. A temporary filling will be placed in the exterior hole in the tooth to keep out contaminants until your next appointment.

During the next visit, the dentist will fill in the interior of the tooth with a sealer paste and a rubber compound placed into the tooth's root canal and a filling will again be placed in the exterior access hole.

The final step may involve further restoration of the tooth. Because a tooth that needs a root canal often is one that has a large filling or extensive decay or other weakness, a crown, crown and post, or other restoration often needs to be placed on the tooth to protect it, prevent it from breaking, and restore it to full function. Dr. Dillon will discuss the need for any additional dental work with you.


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