Endodontics of Orange County – Irvine Root Canal Specialist Peter D. Cancellier, DDS defines the root canal specialty, explains the role of an endodontist, the reasons for root canal treatment, and the root canal treatment procedure.

Definition: Endodontics is the branch of dentistry that deals with diseases of the tooth root, dental pulp, and surrounding tissue. Endodontists are dentists with two extra years of education and training in finding the source of dental pain and infection, curing the disease, and saving teeth with root canal treatment, root canal retreatment, and endodontic surgery.

Historically, a tooth with a diseased nerve would be removed, but endodontists are now able to save the natural tooth when it is expected that root canal treatment will allow the tooth to function normally for an acceptable time period.

Signs and symptoms of problems related to endodontic disease:

  • There is swelling or a pimple on your gum next to a tooth.
  • Cold or hot sometimes cause pain that is very sharp or the pain lingers more than a few seconds
  • Tenderness when chewing and biting.
  • Tooth discoloration.
  • It hurts to bite on a tooth and the symptoms are not improving.
  • You have spontaneous pain and can not determine which tooth hurts.
  • You had a root canal treatment in the past. Now it is tender to bite, or feels loose, or there is swelling or drainage next to the treated tooth.
  • You want a second opinion from an impartial, board certified endodontic specialist.

Endodontic treatment (or root canal treatment) is performed to save the natural tooth. In spite of the many advanced restorations available, most dentists agree that there is no substitute for healthy, natural teeth.

Here are some of the main causes of endodontic disease:

Bacterial infections – Oral bacteria is the most common cause of endodontic problems. Bacteria invade the tooth pulp through tiny channels in the teeth caused by tooth decay or injury. The resulting irritation to the pulp is called pulpitis. If the pulp disease is more severe, a bacterial infection will jeopardize the affected tooth and may cause an abscess to form.

Fractures and chips – When a large part of the surface or crown of the tooth has become completely detached, root canal therapy may be required. The removal of the crown portion leaves the pulp exposed, which can be painful and the patient should call .

Traumatic Injuries – Injuries to the teeth can be caused by a direct or indirect blow to the mouth area.  Some injuries cause a tooth to become moved in, moved back or dislodged from its socket. Root canal treatment is often needed after the endodontist has successfully stabilized the injured tooth.

Teeth Forced Out of Mouth – If a tooth has been knocked clean out of the socket, it is important to pick it up only by the part covered with enamel, gently rinse it, without touching the tissue covering the root, and place it back into the socket as quickly as possible. If this is impossible, place the tooth in special dental solution (available at pharmacies) or in milk. These steps will keep the soft tissue on the root surface moist and alive while emergency dental treatment is sought. The tooth will be replaced in its socket, stabilized with a flexible splint and, based on the age of the patient, the level of tooth development, and the other factors, determine whether the patient should return within ten days to have root canal treatment performed and the splint removed.

What does a root canal procedure involve? See our Video collection for a visual demonstration.

Root canal treatment usually takes between one and two visits to complete. Low radiation digital x-ray images are captured to reveal decay, bone irritation, and infection. Diagnostic tests are performed to locate the tooth pain source.

Initially, a local anesthetic will be administered, and a dental dam (protective sheet) will be placed to ensure that the surgical area remains free of saliva during the treatment. An opening will be created in the surface of the tooth, and the pulp will be completely removed using small handheld and flexible motor-driven instruments.

The root canals will then be shaped, cleaned, and packed with gutta-percha and a sealer interface.  Gutta-percha is a biocompatible material that is somewhat similar to rubber. The Access opening to the root canals must be completely sealed off. Usually, a temporary filling will be placed to restore functionality to the tooth prior to the permanent restoration procedure. During the final visit, a permanent restoration or crown will be placed.

If you have questions or concerns about endodontic procedures, please contact our office.


Read what people are saying about us.

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I had a crown that was done about four months ago and it started hurting real bad. It felt like I was being hit in the face with a wet sock full of nickels. I yelped Endodontist and saw Dr. Cancellier's great reviews and he was one of the few doctors open at 8am. They were able to see me the same morning I called and he accessed my tooth and set an appointment for the next morning for the root canal. I heard so many horror stories about root canals so I was scared and nervous. Dr. Cancellier explained the whole process and told me not to worry because he would make it as pain free as possible. He wasn't lying. I fell asleep a couple of times during the procedure cause I was so comfortable. He gave me some pain meds for afterwards when the mouth numbing wears off but I didn't need it at all. Painless during and after. It was an awesome experience. If you need a root canal, save yourself some tears and pain and call this guy right now.


I went to another dentist and was told I needed a ton of dental work to fix a bad root canal, including an extraction and an implant. Well, I am the biggest chicken when it comes to any dental work, so I thought I needed a 2nd opinion. I was so lucky that a friend’s dentist Dr. Uchizono referred me to Dr. Cancellier. Dr. Cancellier had to do a lot of scary things to my tooth, but he did save it. I went in for 2 procedures. I felt no pain. (Not even the shots, which usually take me over the edge). Dr. C and his staff were so nice and caring. I got a phone call the day and a few days later checking on me. I told them I could not believe that I was ok. I laughed and said the only problem I had was that I needed to go in for a massage after the 1st procedure because I was so tense that my shoulders needed to be worked on. The 2nd procedure went as smoothly as the first one. The only difference was that I did not need a massage, because I knew that I wouldn’t feel any pain. Thank you Dr. C for taking such good care of me and for saving me a ton of money and more, for saving me from experiencing pain.


My dentist sent me to Dr. Cancellier for a bad root canal performed by an out of state endodontist. He was very gentle and took a lot of time with me. He noted that I had a significant amount of infection in my sinus and requested that I see an ENT before treating me further.

Later, it was determined I needed another root canal on another tooth which was discovered after I had returned to Dr. Cancellier after nasal surgery because the nerve had died. I was not looking forward to it because of the poor experience I had with a root canal at the other endodontist. The experience I had with Dr. Cancellier couldn't have been different. Both Dr. and staff were gentle and the procedure was done in half the time and with virtually no discomfort. I walked out of his office an extremely happy person.


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