Dr. James A. Penney, III is an Endodontist, or root canal specialist. Since graduating from Boston University Goldman School of Graduate Dentistry and returning home to Little Rock in 1994, Penney has built his practice on the foundation of exceptional quality root canal and implant therapy.
Penney grew up in North Little Rock and graduated from Catholic High School in 1984. He attended the University of Central Arkansas and then completed dental school at the University of Tennessee in Memphis.
“I have always known that I wanted to be a dentist. In dental school I discovered that I really enjoyed doing root canals and that I had the skills to do them well,” Penney says.
General dentists are trained in comprehensive dental care. They can perform any and all dental procedures. But not every dentist enjoys the root canal facet of dentistry. When a family dentist identifies the need for root canal therapy that they are not comfortable performing, they will refer the patient to a specialist.
A root canal is necessary when the nerve inside a tooth dies, and is usually caused by infection or trauma. The dentist must remove the nerve and clean out any infected tissue; and then fill the canal that once contained the nerve with gutta-percha, a rubber-like substance that fills the space so the bacteria cannot re-infiltrate the root.
The mere mention of the term root canal causes anxiety in a great number of people. Many have heard root canal horror stories or have personally had a bad experience. As with most things in life, you hear more about the procedures that were traumatic than the ones that went smoothly.
Because Penney and his experienced and talented staff understand that many patients have these root canal anxieties, each strives to make the experience in their office as safe, comfortable, and fast as possible.
Penney’s office has a freshly remodeled patient reception area, furniture that can be disinfected with approved cleaners, a soothing saltwater fish tank, massaging dental chairs, and TVs on the ceiling and wall to help put each patient at ease.
As an Endodontist, Penney has two additional years of specialized training in root canals. He has technology, such as the surgical microscope, and advanced skills necessary to perform complex root canal procedures.
“The microscope is a very expensive piece of equipment that would not be cost-effective in a general dentistry practice but is essential and well worth the price in an Endodontic practice,” Penney reports.
The microscope enables Penney to see the tiny root structures and visualize the shape, direction and number of canals present in each tooth. Complete cleaning and filling each root all the way to the tip is critical for the success of the root canal.
Additionally, Penney often uses a Cone Beam CT scanner to obtain a 3D image of the tooth structure in complicated root canal cases. The CT scanner is critical for the surgical placement of dental implant procedures, which Penney also performs.
When COVID-19 shut down dentistry in early 2020, Penney could continue performing emergency procedures. “We were able to retain our valuable staff and keep working, even though we were seeing fewer patients,” he says. “COVID did change some things in the practice. But we have been wearing masks, gloves and safety glasses in dentistry since the ’80s.”
Penney stresses, “Go to your family dentist regularly for your cleaning appointments. If you are already in pain and swollen when you come in to see the dentist, you may have a less than pleasant experience. Problems identified early are much easier and less painful to fix.”
He continues, “Our goal is to give each patient a positive root canal experience. When a patient who is very scared and in terrible pain comes in the office, and 30 minutes later, they look at me and say, ‘That’s it, you really are done?’ and I can assure them that yes, the root canal is finished; that is the most rewarding aspect of my job. The mission of this practice is to fulfill our motto: Happiness is a Root Canal!”
13239 Cantrell Rd., Little Rock, 72223