Root canal treatment is done to save a badly damaged or infected tooth, rather than removing the tooth. Most dentists agree that saving natural teeth is in a patient’s best interest.  Root canal treatment involves removing the pulp of the tooth, cleaning and disinfecting the tooth roots and then filling/sealing the roots.

What to expect during a root canal:

  1. Anesthesia- Local anesthesia is administered to the infected tooth. Root canal treatment is actually no more painful than a filling.
  2. Pulpectomy- An opening in the tooth is made and the pulp is completely removed.
  3. Filling- Roots are filled with gutta-percha material and then sealed off with cement.
  4. Final restoration- After a root canal the tooth must be properly sealed with either a dental filling or a full coverage crown. Your dentist will determine which option is best for you and can usually complete both root canal treatment and final restoration in the same appointment.

 Common reasons for inner tooth (pulp) damage:

-Bacterial infections caused by tooth decay or injury
-A cracked or fractured tooth that leads to pulp exposure
-Trauma or injury to a tooth
-Repeated dental treatment to a tooth

Signs and symptoms of endodontic problems:
-Teeth are sensitive to hot and cold foods and/or drinks
-Inflammation and tenderness in the gums
-Tenderness when chewing
-Unexplained pain in the nearby lymph nodes
-Tooth discoloration

Endodontics Q/A

Q: Is a root canal painful?

A: Prior to treatment, patients needing a root canal may be in pain from the infection in their tooth. Root canal treatment is done to eliminate that pain and save the natural tooth. The procedure itself is no more painful than a filling- in fact; most patients feel no pain at all.

Q: Now that my tooth’s nerves have been removed I won’t feel any pain right?

A: You will no longer experience sensitivity or sharp shooting pain in the treated tooth. But, for a few days after treatment the area surrounding the tooth could be sensitive and inflamed.

Q: Why would my dentist say I need a root canal if I’m not having any pain?

A: Not all teeth requiring root canal treatment cause the patient pain. An absence of pain does not mean that a tooth is healthy. If x-rays show that a tooth’s pulp is damaged or infected, but that the tooth can still be saved, your dentist will recommend a root canal.

Q: After I get a root canal will I need to have any other treatment on my tooth?

A: A root canal treated tooth requires a final restoration, either a filling or full coverage crown, to fully protect the tooth. This can usually be done at the same appointment as the root canal. If for any reason a final restoration is not completed at the same appointment, a temporary filling will be placed and you should return as soon as possible for the final restoration.