The mere mention of a root canal is enough to strike fear into the strongest of hearts. Realistically though, a root canal is a nearly painless procedure if carried out by a dentist who is properly trained and experienced. A root canal is a useful tool that can help to resolve your pain issues while keeping your natural teeth.

Root canals are usually performed when:

  • There is an infection in the nerve of a tooth
  • There is damage to pulp (the soft inside of the tooth)

During a root canal your dentist will removed the damaged part of your tooth. Next your tooth is completely cleaned then sealed off so that no bacteria can enter. If you are diligent about taking care of your teeth, and see your dentist regularly, root canals can be avoided.

If you think you may need a root canal, there are four possible symptoms that you should watch for:

  • Your tooth has tenderness and possible swelling near the surrounding gums.
  • You experience severe pain while eating or upon the application of any pressure.
  • Your tooth is extremely sensitive to hot/cold temperatures even once the temperature has been removed from the tooth.
  • Your tooth is discolored.
Illustration of root canal

If you do need a root canal, the following will take place:

  • Your dentist will take and examine your X-rays to see how far the infection has spread.
  • Your dentist will give you local anesthesia to numb the area surrounding the infected tooth.
  • Your dentist will attach a rubber dam to the infected tooth to keep it dry and clean.
  • Your dentist will drill a small access hole in the infected tooth so that all pulp, nerve tissue, and bacteria can be cleared from the tooth.
  • Next, your dentist will clean and seal the tooth to prevent future infection.
  • The tooth will then be filled with a special compound.
  • Finally, your dentist may do some restorative work if necessary to deal with the aesthetics of functionality of the tooth.