Q & A with the Dentist Professionals: Root Canals and You

If you have a deep cavity or broken tooth, a root canal may be in order. Here, Dentist experts answer questions on this common procedure and offer advice on how to find a dentist to treat your condition.

Q: What exactly is a root canal?

A: A root canal is a dental procedure necessary when tissue inside of the tooth becomes damaged. Your dentist will remove the diseased pulp (connective membranes, nerves, and soft tissue containing blood vessels inside of the tooth). Once the diseased matter is removed, the exposed area is cleaned and sealed. Teeth that contain damaged or diseased pulp may become painful or infected if left untreated.

Q: What causes tooth infections?

A: There are a number of ways that tissue inside of your teeth can become infected. Broken or cracked teeth or those with unfilled cavities are vulnerable to disease. Even teeth with no visible damage are susceptible.

Q: How long will the restoration from a root canal last?

A: A root canal is a restorative procedure that, if cared for properly, may last a lifetime. However, even teeth without nerves can still develop cavities or, worse, gum disease.

Q: Is a root canal painful?

A: Typically, a root canal is more uncomfortable than painful. Your dentist will offer pain management options that may include local anesthesia or nitrous oxide. A root canal typically takes between one and three visits for completion. Post-procedure pain may be managed with over the counter products, according to the advice of your dentist.

Q: How do I find a dentist experienced in this procedure?

A: Root canals are extremely common procedures that are often performed by a general or family dentist. However, if you have any concerns you may want to find a dentist that specializes in the treatment of issues inside the teeth. These dentists are called endodontists and have undergone additional training to identify and treat hidden dental issues.