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When you hear the phrase “root canal,” it’s natural to feel a little apprehensive. After all, the term has become synonymous with pain and discomfort. However, the truth is that root canals are essential dental procedures that can save a damaged or infected tooth from extraction. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what a root canal is, why it’s necessary, and what to expect with a root canal procedure. 

Below, we have laid out the root canal procedures step by step.

What is a Root Canal?

A root canal is a dental procedure that involves removing the damaged or infected tissue from inside the tooth’s root. The root canal system consists of the pulp (soft tissue inside the tooth), the root canals (narrow channels that run from the pulp to the tip of the root), and the periodontal ligament (the tissue that holds the tooth in place in the jawbone). When the pulp becomes infected or inflamed due to deep decay, a cracked or broken tooth, or repeated dental procedures on the same tooth, a root canal may be necessary.

When do you Need a Root Canal?

Root canal treatment is needed when the soft tissue inside the tooth, known as the pulp, becomes infected or inflamed. This can occur due to various reasons, such as deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the same tooth, cracks or chips in the tooth, or trauma to the face.

Typical signs of needing a root canal include severe toothache, sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, swelling in the gums, and tenderness when biting or chewing. However, not all cases present with symptoms, and sometimes an X-ray is necessary to identify the issue.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or signs that you need a root canal, it is important to see a root canal specialist as soon as possible. Delaying treatment can lead to more severe pain and infection, and in some cases, tooth loss.

Why is a Root Canal Necessary?

If left untreated, an infected or inflamed pulp can lead to an abscess, which is a pocket of pus that forms at the tip of the root. Abscesses can be very painful and can lead to serious health problems if left untreated. In addition, if the infection is severe, the tooth may need to be extracted. Extracting a tooth can lead to other problems, such as shifting teeth, bite problems, and difficulty eating and speaking.

A root canal procedure can save a damaged or infected tooth from extraction. During the procedure, the endodontist will remove the damaged or infected pulp and clean out the root canals. Once the canals are clean, the endodontist will fill them with a special material and seal the tooth to prevent further infection. In some cases, a crown may be necessary to strengthen the tooth and restore its function.

What to Expect During a Root Canal Procedure?

The thought of undergoing a root canal procedure can be intimidating, which is why it’s not uncommon to push it off for a later time.  However, modern techniques and anesthesia can make root canals relatively painless, though not guaranteed. 

Here’s what you may expect during the procedure:


Before the procedure begins, the endodontist will administer local anesthesia to numb the area around the affected tooth. If you’re nervous, you may also be given a sedative to help you relax.


Once the specific area is numbed up, an endodontist will make a small access hole in the top of the tooth to access the pulp and root canals.


An endodontist will use speciality tools to completely remove the damaged or infected pulp and thoroughly clean out the root canals.


Once the canals are clean, the endodontist will fill them with a special material, usually a rubber-like substance called gutta-percha. This material seals the canals to prevent further infection.


Finally, the endodontist will seal the access hole with a temporary filling until a permanent crown can be placed.

After the procedure, it is normal to experience some sensitivity, discomfort, or mild pain around the treated tooth. However, this should subside within a few days as the inflammation subsides and the tooth heals. In some cases, patients may experience mild pain or sensitivity for up to a week or two after the procedure. This can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain medications. It is important to avoid chewing on the affected tooth until the permanent crown is placed to prevent further damage or infection. If you experience severe pain, swelling, or other complications after the procedure, you should contact your dentist or endodontist immediately.

A root canal procedure may seem scary, but it’s a necessary treatment that can save a damaged or infected tooth from extraction. If you’re experiencing tooth pain or sensitivity, it’s essential to see an endodontist for an evaluation. The sooner you seek treatment, the more likely it is that your tooth can be saved with a root canal procedure. With modern techniques and anesthesia, root can be a relatively straightforward and comfortable process.