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Root Canals

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Root canal therapy is used to repair and save a tooth that has been seriously decayed or infected. This treatment is performed when the pulp inside the tooth is damaged. If the damaged pulp is not removed, bacteria can start to build up and multiply inside the tooth. An infection can result and cause more serious issues in the future. Root canals have sometimes had the reputation of being painful. However, the truth is that many people report that the procedure itself is no more painful than having a filling placed. On the other hand, the pain and discomfort experienced in the period leading up to seeking dental care can be quite painful, more so than the root canal procedure itself.

Common Symptoms

There are some signs that indicate root canal therapy may be needed. It’s important for you to come into Rolling Oaks Dental in San Antonio to get checked out if you experience any of the following:

  • Tender or swollen around gums
  • Dark or discolored tooth
  • Recurring pimple located on the gums
  • Severe pain in teeth when chewing or applying pressure
  • Pain or sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
  • Sometimes it is possible for no symptoms to be present

About The Procedure

Our dentists will perform a root canal procedure over one or more office visits. If there are more serious complications we may refer you to an endodontist, who specializes in root canals, but nearly all root canals have been treated right here in our office very successfully.


  1. X-rays are taken of the affected teeth in order to see the shape of the root canals. We look for signs of infection around the bone.
  2. Local anesthesia is used to numb the area. We also offer nitrous oxide and oral conscious sedation to help you through this procedure if you experience too much anxiety or stress.
  3. A sheet of rubber called a “rubber dam” will be placed around the affected tooth in order to keep the area dry during treatment.
  4. A hole is then drilled into the tooth to access the soft area of the pulp. The pulp and nerve tissue is removed from the tooth. Once this is all out, along with any decay and debris, the tooth is very thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to ensure no bacteria gets trapped inside.
  5. The tooth is meticulously cleaned and flushed with water. If there is a bad infection, we may put medication inside the tooth to clear it up fully first, in which case a temporary filling will be placed in the exterior hole in the tooth to keep contaminants out between appointments. But most of the time it will be sealed right away final filling is put in.
  6. The tooth is sealed using a sealer paste and rubber compound which are placed into the tooth’s root canals and then a harder, standard filling is placed to fill the upper part of the tooth.
  7. The final step often involves further restoration. As a tooth that needs a root canal is often one that had a large filling already or extensive decay or other weakness, we will most likely place a crown on the tooth to protect it, prevent it from breaking, and restore it to full function.

Root Canal

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Root canal therapy is a very common procedure. It has a reputation of being undesirable and painful. But when done properly it is actually painless. Every tooth in your mouth is composed of a crown and a root. When a cavity or bacteria penetrates the tooth, the root and its nerves become irritated. As a result, the bacteria within the pulp cavity needs to be removed and cleaned in order to restore the tooth to its healthy state. Following the procedure, the tooth is fragile and consequently is restored with the natural crown for a lifetime of durability. Root canals have a success rate of 95% or greater. Most root canal are diagnosed by patients’ sensitivities to a specific tooth. Be sure to consult your dentist any symptoms or discomfort occur.

Larry Dougherty, DDS near me

Larry Dougherty, DDS

Larry Dougherty, DDS, is the lead dentist at Rolling Oaks Dental and specializes in general, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry.

Dr. Dougherty earned his Bachelor of Science in Genetics from the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, and his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was an adjunct faculty member at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Dental School in the Department of Comprehensive Dentistry for two years.