An illustration of a root canal showing a cross section of a tooth with a dental tool going through the top of the tooth into the root

A root canal is a procedure used to save a tooth that might otherwise be lost due to disease, decay, or infection. The term itself refers to the natural cavity within the center of the tooth.

In a root canal procedure, a dentist will remove the nerve and pulp of the affected tooth, then clean and seal it. The pulp is a collection of blood vessels that build the surrounding tooth. When pulp gets infected, the tooth may be sensitive to temperature or pain, and patients often feel discomfort in the affected tooth.

The nerve must be removed, as once it is damaged it has already begun to break down, filling the center of the tooth with bacteria. Without intervention, this may cause infection and lead to potential loss of that tooth.

Though root canals have a reputation for being painful, most patients report the level of discomfort to be similar to that of having a filling replaced.

Patients can expect the affected tooth to be sensitive post-procedure. Over the counter pain medications are usually sufficient to mitigate any pain or discomfort, and dentists often allow patients to return to regular activities the day after the procedure.

The rate of success for root canals is over 95%; most teeth repaired with a root canal will last a lifetime. However, as with most dental procedures, it is important to follow good dental hygiene practices, and regular follow up visits may be necessary. Regular brushing and flossing, following a healthy diet low in sugar, and refraining from smoking can all be beneficial to avoiding the necessity of a root canal in the first place.

Most dental insurance will typically cover at least partial costs of root canal procedures. If you think you might need a root canal, get in touch with our office today!