What Really Is a Root Canal?


We all know that tooth pain is excruciating. Sometimes it goes away and sometimes it doesn’t. Unfortunately, when it doesn’t, you can become very uncomfortable. But what does this mean?

It may be that you need something called a root canal. We know that the phrase “root canal” is scary in itself, but it shouldn’t be! A root canal is a procedure designed to bring your tooth back to its full functionality. Just because the inside of the tooth has a flaw that doesn’t mean that it needs to be pulled. In fact, a root canal can be a great alternative and in fact, pulling a tooth could lead to more problems in the future in some instances. If the outside of the tooth is still in good shape, there is no reason why there should be an extraction.

Do I Need a Root Canal?

How can you tell if you may need a root canal? Symptoms may include:

  • Hot and cold sensitivity
  • Swelling
  • Severe pain
  • Abscess on the gum

Your dentist, however, is much better trained and can determine the exact nature of your issue. He or she will also decide whether or not you need a root canal.

What can cause you to be in need of root canal? A root canal often is needed for one of these three reasons:

  • Injury or tooth trauma
  • Infection or abscess
  • Decay

Injury and trauma are, of course, largely unavoidable. There is no good way to protect against accidental trauma. However, infection and decay can be prevented by practicing good oral hygiene habits. Brushing twice a day and flossing can prevent oral issues, ensuring that your teeth and overall mouth health are the best they can be.

Root Canal DiagramWhat Does a Root Canal Entail?

A root canal involved opening up the tooth and removing all of the nerve tissues that are causing you pain. A root canal is normally conducted by a dentist or an endodontist, or a root canal specialist, and the procedure may involve more than one appointment, depending on the tooth and the severity of the issue. Each tooth is unique and can have its own healing process.

The doctor will first numb your mouth. People say that root canals are painful, however you should not feel any pain during this procedure. The doctor will then place a plastic sheet around the tooth in question, which prevents saliva from getting in the tooth and causing an infection while the root canal is being performed. The specialist will then open your tooth and slowly clean out the root area of the tooth. This involves removing nerve tissue, pulp and any bacteria or decay that may exist inside.

Once the tooth is cleaned, a filling will be placed into the tooth with either a permanent or temporary filling. The tooth will also need to be covered to prevent any future infection. In some instances, you may also need a crown (or cap) placed on the top of the tooth.

Your pain may not go away right after the procedure. It will often take time for the swelling to reside and for you to chew normally. Your tooth will still be sensitive, and we often recommend sticking to softer foods until you feel you can chew normally. Your doctor will give you specific instructions at the end of your appointment for aftercare, and you may or not need an antibiotic or a follow-up visit scheduled following a root canal.

Are you experiencing tooth pain? Call us today at 585 343-1113 or request an appointment online now and let us help determine the best course of action for your tooth.

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