Getting To The Root Of The Problem

A root canal is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth with pulp that is badly inflamed, decayed, or becomes infected.

Pulp is found in the hollow part of the center of the tooth, consisting of nerve, blood vessels, and connective tissue. It continues down canals that extend through the roots of the tooth and into the surrounding bone.


Mature teeth do not require pulp to be functional, so the pulp is removed and the pulp chamber and all the canals and are filled and sealed to prevent bacteria from entering. This enables you to keep your natural tooth, which will be effective for many years to come.

Prior to the development of root canal procedures, effected teeth were simply pulled and replaced. Saving the natural tooth with a root canal has numerous advantages:

  •    Efficient chewing
  •    Normal biting force and sensation
  •    Natural appearance
  •    Protects other teeth from excessive wear or strain

Causes For Root Canal:


  • Tooth is extremely sensitive to hot or cold, even after the stimulus is removed from the tooth.
  • Spontaneous discomfort, even when not eating or drinking.
  • Pressure on the tooth or chewing causes pain.


  • An abscess forms when the pulp dies and a pocket of pus forms around the end of the root where dead nerve tissues are infected with bacteria.
  • You may notice a bad taste in your mouth.
  • Sometimes a bump is present on the outside of the gums, resembling a pimple, that can drain pus.


  • Tooth decay that permeates the pulp becomes infected with bacteria.
  • Tooth is inflamed and painful (but it’s also possible to exist without discomfort).


  • If hit hard, a tooth’s nerve can become severed at the end of the root and die.
  • It may take years to occur and/or become problematic.


  • A fracture extending deep into the tooth, reaching the pulp, requires a root canal.
  • If the pulp is in tact, yet minimal tooth structure remains above the gum line to support a restoration, a root canal may be necessary to accommodate a post to retain a crown.


  • Repeated drilling can produce inflammation in the tooth’s pulp.
  • It may become irreversible.


  • Pain
  • Swelling, sometimes spreading to face, neck, or head
  • Prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Tenderness to the touch or chewing
  • Tooth discoloration (grey)
  • Drainage (bad taste) in the mouth
  • Bone loss astound tip of the root
  • Persistent or recurring pimple on the gums
  • Sometimes no symptoms are present

Your dentist will take an X-ray of the root and may perform a pulp test. During a pulp test, a cold stimulus is placed against your tooth to determine if sensitivity is within normal range. Multiple teeth will be tested, one at a time, to compare response results.

The root canal will be treated in either one or two visits, based on the size and duration of an abscess and complexity of the problem. Root canals can be performed by a general dentist or an endodontist, who specializes in tooth pulp and tissues surrounding the tooth’s root. General dentists may refer you to an endodontist if your tooth’s situation is complicated.

Using local anesthesia, the doctor will numb the offending tooth and then place a rubber dam over it. This ensures a clean environment free of saliva and contaminants.


An opening is drilled through the top of the tooth, pulp is removed, and the canals are then thoroughly cleaned. Next, the canals are widened in diameter using files to ensure eradication of any remaining infected tooth structure and allow for the filling. Multiple X-rays are taken to confirm the files are reaching the end of the root and all canals are adequately treated. The dentist continues by filling your canals with a rubber-like material called gutta percha, surrounded by a sealing paste.

However, if the procedure will require two appointments, medicine is inserted down the canal to kill bacteria at the root and a temporary filling is instead placed in the tooth. If an endodontist conducted the procedure, temporary filling will also be used, so your general dentist can place the permanent filling. Your second appointment will take place in a week or later, and an antibiotic may be prescribed to ward off infection.

Most teeth that have a root canal will require a crown to prevent future fractures, because removing the pulp makes the tooth brittle. It also protects the tooth from subsequent contamination. A post may be placed to provide an anchor for the filling. Your dentist may do the crown on the spot, or may opt for a waiting period to ensure the tooth is indeed free of pain before proceeding. After the tooth is restored, it continues to function just like any other tooth.

Patients may have some soreness on their gums and surrounding the tooth when the anesthesia subsides. You’ll likely need to chew on the other side for a few days post-treatment. Most people report ability to return to normal activity immediately. Typically the pain experienced during and after the procedure is minimal compared to the pain you’re in prior to the root canal. On occasion, painkillers are prescribed.

Root canals can last a lifetime. It’s important to get the permanent restoration on the tooth as soon as possible after the procedure. Teeth with root canals can still attract cavities, and without nerves, you won’t feel symptoms. Brush and floss regularly to maintain impeccable hygiene and limit your risk of cavities.

Millions of teeth are treated and saved each year with root canals. If you’ve experienced some of the symptoms and problems listed above, contact Dr. Arhiri at Premier Smiles Dental Spa to schedule an appointment and save your beautiful smile! Call 610.647.7611 or email today!

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