Root Canals: Fact and Fiction

Root canals.  It seems public opinion of the words themselves are vaguely ominous and sound painful.  But what do we really know about root canals?

Infected tooth in process of a root canal
Infected tooth in process of a root canal

Root canals can be necessary for a variety of issues such as: a chipped or cracked tooth, deep infection, bad amount of decay, when the pulp of the tooth becomes inflamed or infected, a faulty crown, repeated dental procedures on a tooth, trauma to a tooth.

A root canal is a way to try to save a tooth and to relieve the pain from the tooth.  Under the top layer of your tooth (enamel) lies the hard layer called dentin.  Under that layer is soft tissue called the “pulp” which contains blood vessels, connective tissue and nerves.  This pulp runs all the way down through each one of your teeth all the way down through the root of the tooth.

When the pulp or nerve tissue becomes inflamed, it breaks down and bacteria begin to multiply and inhabit the inflamed area.  When bacteria and other decayed debris live in this area, they can cause an infection or abscessed tooth. An abscess is a pus-filled pocket that forms at the end of a tooth’s root.  The infection can also can cause any of the following: bone loss around the tip of the root, swelling that may spread to the head, neck or face, or drainage problems outward of the tooth that can drain out into the gums or to the skin through the cheek.

Still nervous?  Check out this quick video from the American Association of Endodontists to put you more at ease!

In a root canal, the pulp of the tooth is carefully removed, the canal is completely disinfected and cleaned and then the canal is filled with a rubber-like material called gutta percha.  Then soon after the root canal is finished a crown is placed on top of the tooth to seal off the newly cleaned tooth as protection.  After this procedure, the tooth should function just as well as any other tooth in your mouth.


Fact or Fiction: The actual of the root canal is painful.

Fiction.  While many people think it may be painful, patients report that having a root canal is no more “painful” than having a regular filling placed.  In fact, the most painful part of a root canal is the personal discomfort with the infected tooth leading up to the actual root canal.

Fact or Fiction: Removing the tooth pulp will make me lose function of my tooth.

Fiction. The purpose of the pulp is to give the sensation of hot or cold (in a fully developed tooth).  Once a tooth is fully developed, the tooth can still receive nutrients from the tissue around it and will have full functionality in your mouth after a root canal.

Fact or Fictions: A tooth that needs a root canal can have many symptoms and not can sometimes not even be causing pain.

Fact.  There are many signs or symptoms to a tooth that is in need of a root canal.  Some commons signs are: prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold (long after the stimulus has been applied), discoloration or darkening of the tooth, a persistent or reoccurring pimple on the gums near the tooth, and severe discomfort or pain when chewing or application of pressure to the tooth.


For more information on root canals or if you think you may need one, call our office today to set up an appointment today at Goldstein Dental and have Dr. Goldstein relieve your pain at (716) 635-4720!




Color Skin

Nav Mode