What to Consider When Getting a Root Canal

What to Consider When Getting a Root Canal

What to Consider When Getting a Root Canal?

Someone mentions the word root canal and immediately you think of pain and suffering. Even if you’ve never experienced root canal treatment, the whole notion seems scary. But where do these fears come from? What do we know – and not know about root canal therapy?

According to the American Association of Endodontics, “Root canal treatment is an often-straightforward procedure to relieve dental pain and save your teeth. Patients typically need a root canal when there is inflammation or infection in the roots of a tooth. The Association goes on to say that, “During root canal treatment, an endodontist who specializes in such treatment carefully removes the pulp inside the tooth, cleans, disinfects and shapes the root canals, and places a filling to seal the space.”

Root canals have come a long way since first performed decades ago. Similar to a number of other medical procedures, with modern-day technology and better anesthetics, root canal treatment is no more painful than having a cavity filled.  In fact, only 17 percent of people who’ve had a root canal described it as their “most painful dental experience.”

Rest assured that modern-day root canal treatment relieves and treats dental pain – not the opposite. And, knowing what to expect helps ease worries and fears associated with the procedure.

Signs that a Root Canal is Necessary

You are probably wondering; how will I know if there is decay inside the pulp of my tooth? Remember, the pulp is the core of your tooth where nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue live. And a root canal is the procedure of cleaning out the decay in the pulp. So, what are the signs to look out for? Below are basic root canal symptoms:


According to the American Association of Endodontics, a root canal can be performed in one or two visits by an endodontist. An endodontist specializes in this branch of dentistry, particularly focusing on the soft pulp tissue inside the tooth. Endodontists describe root canal treatment in four steps:

  1. The endodontist exams the tooth with x-rays and then administers a local anesthetic to numb the procedure site. A “dental dam” (small piece of latex) may be placed over the patient’s mouth to keep the tooth clean during the procedure.
  2. Next, the endodontist makes a small opening in the top of the tooth to access the inside. Tiny files are used to clean the decay from the pulp. He or she may irrigate the chamber and/or use an antimicrobial solution to kill any remaining bacteria.
  3. Once the chamber is cleaned out, the endodontist will fill the canals with a material called gutta-percha. Then, a temporary filling is usually placed to close the opening at the top of the tooth.
  4. After a few weeks, the patient will return for the endodontist to place a crown or other type of restoration on top of the tooth for future protection.


After having root canal treatment, it’s important to practice good oral hygiene. Brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and eating soft foods until your endodontist or dentist has placed the permanent filling. It’s also important to keep your regular dental appointments twice a year.

The American Board of Endodontists says, “Most endodontically treated teeth last as long as other natural teeth. In a few cases, a tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment does not heal or the pain continues. Occasionally, the tooth may become painful or diseased months or even years after successful treatment. Often when this occurs, redoing the endodontic procedure can save the tooth.”