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What is a root canal?

root canal

What is a root canal?

This is a common dental procedure used to eliminate bacteria from the infected tooth, prevent reinfection of the tooth and save the natural tooth. When one undergoes a root canal, the inflamed or infected pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected, then filled and sealed. If you are experiencing any kind of dental pain, it is important to see your dentist as soon as possible for a diagnosis.

How much does it cost?

It really depends on several factors including which tooth it is and if you have insurance. Many dental insurance plans cover at least a portion of the cost of a root canal. Without insurance, it could be close to $1,000.

What are the symptoms of a root canal?

Symptoms of a tooth infection that needs a root canal can include:

  • Severe toothache
  • Pain when chewing
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Swollen gums
  • Pus drainage from the gums near the infected tooth
  • Broken tooth

If you are having any of these symptoms or suspect you may need a root canal you should see a dentist. Even if you are not in need of a root canal, you may need treatment to prevent the need of having a root canal.

How long does it last?

Once the root canal treatment has been completed, it should last the life of the tooth. However, if the tooth is not properly taken care of or if you get a new infection, the root canal may need to be redone. This treatment is usually successful, but there is always a chance for failure.

Does root canal treatment kill the tooth?

No, it does not kill the tooth. It is a common misconception that a root canal means the death of the tooth.

What happens if I do not get treatment?

If you do not get treatment for a tooth infection, the infection can spread to other parts of the body. It can lead to much more serious health problems such as bone loss, abscesses and even heart problems. It is very important to see a dentist for treatment if you need to get a root canal.

What are the risks?

There are always risks with any dental procedure. Some of the risks include:

  • Infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Tooth fracture
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Dental abscess
  • Failure to save the tooth

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or have any other concerns, be sure to talk to your dentist. They will be able to answer any questions you may have and help put your mind at ease. This procedure may seem like a scary procedure, but it is a common and safe treatment that can save your natural tooth.

Is a root canal painful?

Most people report that their experience with a root canal was not very painful. You will be given a local anesthetic to numb the area so you won’t feel any pain. You may experience some sensitivity to hot or cold after the procedure, but this should go away within a few days. It is important to understand, this procedure is performed to relieve you from pain, not to create more pain for you.

What are the benefits of a root canal?

The benefits of this procedure include:

  • Eliminating bacteria from the infected tooth
  • Preventing reinfection
  • Saving the natural tooth
  • Restoring function
  • Reducing pain and swelling in the gums

What is an endodontist?

An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in root canals and other treatments of the dental pulp. If you need one, it is likely that you will be referred to an endodontist. If you have any other questions about root canals or would like more information, talk to your dentist or endodontist. They will be happy to help.

What happens during the procedure?

During a root canal, the infected pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected. The tooth is sealed and filled. If you are having the procedure done on a molar, your dentist may also recommend having a dental crown placed on the tooth to protect it and restore its function.


Most pain after the procedure can be treated with Tylenol or Advil.

After the procedure is completed, you will need to take care of your tooth as you would any other tooth. This includes brushing and flossing twice a day, and seeing your dentist for regular check-ups.

If you have any questions or concerns about your procedure, be sure to talk to your dentist. They will be able to answer any questions you may have and help put your mind at ease.

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