Root canal treatment is where your dentist treats problems deep inside a tooth without extracting that tooth. These problems can include injuries, abscesses, deep cavities, and others. The pulp that is in the tooth that is affected is removed and replaced by a rubbery material.

Types of Root Canals

Primary Root Canal Treatment

This procedure is performed to take care of inflammation or infection.

Secondary Root Canal Treatment

This procedure is performed if the first root canal does not resolve the problem totally.


If regular root canal treatments are not helping, then this microsurgical procedure is done. The tip of the tooth’s root and any infected tissue are taken out.


This procedure is usually done on children. The nerve and the diseased pulp are taken out only from the crown of the tooth. The root nerve is left intact.


Also performed on children, this procedure is where the whole nerve and all pulp are taken out.

Why Do You Need a Root Canal?

If your tooth has nerve tissue or pulp that is damaged, then it can deteriorate. Bacteria will then start to form in the pulp chamber. This bacteria can cause an infection or an abscess. An abscess is a pocket filled with pus that occurs at the end of the roots of a tooth. Also, an infection in the root canal of a tooth can produce:

– Swelling
– Bone loss
– Drainage problems

Signs That You Need a Root Canal

Sometimes, you will have no symptoms, but these are the symptoms that show that a root canal is necessary:

– Severe pain when chewing
– Sensitivity to heat and cold
– Discoloration
– Swelling and tenderness in the gums
– A pimple on the gums forms

The Process of a Root Canal

A root canal is a procedure performed by a dentist or endodontist. An endodontist is a specialist who focuses on diseases and injuries of the dental pulp or the nerve of the tooth.

First, an x-ray is taken of the root canals, and your dentist will check to see if there is any infection in the surrounding bone. Next, the dentist will numb the area.

The dentist will put a rubber sheet around the tooth to keep the area dry. They then will drill a hole in the tooth to get access to the affected area. The pulp and nerve tissue that is affected is then removed from the tooth. The dentist will then wash away the debris with water.

After the tooth is cleaned out, it is sealed. Sometimes it takes a couple of appointments to finish the root canal. If this is the case, then a temporary filling will be placed in the hole to prevent contamination. To seal the tooth, a rubber substance called gutta-percha is filled into the tooth. A filling is placed in the access hole to seal it up. Finally, the dentist may need to restore the tooth with a crown or a post if there is extensive decay.

After the Root Canal

For a few days after the procedure, the area may be inflamed or sensitive. You can control the pain with over-the-counter medicines, such as ibuprofen or naproxen. You should be able to resume normal activity immediately. If the dentist has not finished the procedure completely, then it is good not to chew on the affected area.

With respect to your oral care, you should brush and floss just like usual.

Root canals have a 95% success rate. The affected area is also not conspicuous because a crown or filling is placed in the access hole.

Sometimes, a new infection might occur after your root canal. The reasons for this can include:

– An unnoticed crack in the root of your tooth
– A defective dental restoration that allows re-contamination
– A deterioration of the filling material that allows reinfection

With the advent of new dental technology, the process of getting a root canal does not have to be any more painful than getting a filling. In many cases, the procedure is a real necessity. You should always go to your dentist at least twice a year, and they will tell you if you need this kind of procedure. Of course, if you have pain in your mouth anywhere, it is wise to make an appointment to see your dentist right away.

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