What Is a Root Canal?

Quck answer

A root canal is a dental procedure that involves removing the infected or damaged pulp from the inside of a tooth. The pulp is the soft tissue that contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. During a root canal, the dentist will clean and disinfect the tooth’s root canals, then fill them with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. This helps to prevent further infection and restore the tooth’s function. A crown or filling is usually placed on top of the tooth to protect it. Root canals are typically performed to save a tooth that would otherwise need to be extracted.

When you attend school, you become accustomed to being assessed. Every six to nine weeks, you receive a report card that informs both you and your parents about your performance in completing assignments and taking exams.

However, evaluation does not end when you finish school. Can you think of any other situations where you would like to receive a positive evaluation? How about when you visit the dentist? If you have been avoiding excessive sweets and practicing regular brushing and flossing, the dentist will hopefully give you a thumbs-up during your check-up.

However, if you have cavities or other issues, you may need to spend more time in the dentist’s chair. For example, certain problems may require a procedure called a root canal. While the term “root canal” may frighten some people, advancements in dental technology have made root canals a routine procedure that no one needs to fear.

While you naturally pay attention to the external part of your teeth, as it is the only part you can see, the inside of your tooth may also require attention. Beneath the outer layer of white enamel and the hard dentin layer, there is a soft tissue area known as the pulp. The pulp inside a tooth contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissues.

Each tooth has a nerve that enters from the tip of the root. The nerve travels from the root tip into the pulp through small, narrow passages called root canals. Each tooth can have one to four root canals.

If you have a deep cavity, a crack or chip, or any other form of deep injury to a tooth, the pulp can become infected and inflamed. When this happens, pressure can build up inside the tooth with no way to relieve it. This can cause tooth pain when you bite, chew, or consume hot or cold food or drinks.

To alleviate the pain and save your tooth, a dentist will likely recommend a root canal procedure, also known as endodontic treatment. Most dentists routinely perform root canal procedures, although complex cases may be referred to specialists called endodontists.

During a root canal procedure, a hole is drilled into the top of the tooth, reaching the pulp chamber. The damaged pulp is removed, and the entire area, including the root canals, is cleaned and disinfected. If necessary, medication may be injected into the area to combat any remaining bacterial infection.

Once the pulp chamber has been thoroughly cleaned, it is filled and sealed with gutta-percha, a special rubber-like material. To complete the restoration of the tooth, a crown or filling is placed. After the procedure is finished and the tooth has healed, it will continue to function just like your other teeth.

Although a root canal may not sound enjoyable, it is actually a very common procedure. Thanks to modern technology and advanced numbing agents, getting a root canal is not much different from getting a filling. So if your dentist recommends a root canal, don’t worry. It is much better than the alternative, which is losing your tooth!

Try It Out

Are you ready to delve deeper? Gather a few friends or family members to assist you in exploring the following activities:

  • If you want to learn more about the process of root canal treatment, you can go online and watch informative videos at “What Are the Steps of Root Canal Treatment?” Were you surprised by anything in the procedure?
  • Cavities are one of the causes that can eventually lead to needing a root canal. How can you prevent cavities? By brushing your teeth! Take a moment to brush your teeth right now. Ask a friend or family member to evaluate your brushing technique. Are you effectively cleaning every part of your mouth? Are you brushing for a sufficient amount of time? Focus on areas that need improvement.
  • If you’re interested in exploring a variety of fun games and activities, you can visit the Smile Squad online! There, you’ll find games, art projects, and exciting adventures. Enjoy yourself and keep smiling!

Useful Sources

  • http://www.knowyourteeth.com/infobites/abc/article/?abc=R&iid=326&aid=1310
  • http://www.aae.org/patients/treatments-and-procedures/root-canals/root-canals.aspx


1. What is a root canal?

A root canal is a dental procedure that is performed to save a severely damaged or infected tooth. It involves removing the infected pulp, which is the soft tissue inside the tooth, and cleaning and disinfecting the root canals. The canals are then filled with a special material and sealed to prevent further infection. The tooth is usually restored with a crown to protect and strengthen it.

2. Why is a root canal needed?

A root canal is needed when the pulp inside a tooth becomes infected or inflamed. This can happen due to deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, a crack or chip in the tooth, or trauma to the tooth. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the surrounding tissues and cause pain, swelling, and even the loss of the tooth. A root canal can save the tooth and prevent the need for extraction.

3. Is a root canal painful?

Contrary to popular belief, a root canal procedure is not painful. The tooth and surrounding area are numbed with local anesthesia, so you should not feel any pain during the procedure. In fact, a root canal is performed to relieve the pain caused by an infected tooth. After the procedure, you may experience some discomfort or sensitivity, but this can be managed with over-the-counter pain medications.

4. How long does a root canal take?

The duration of a root canal procedure depends on the complexity of the case and the tooth being treated. On average, a root canal can take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours. However, some cases may require multiple visits to complete the treatment. Your dentist will be able to provide you with a more accurate estimate based on your specific situation.

5. Are there any alternatives to a root canal?

In some cases, a tooth may be too damaged or infected to be saved with a root canal. In these situations, the tooth may need to be extracted. However, it is always best to try to save the natural tooth whenever possible, as it provides better chewing function and maintains the alignment of the surrounding teeth. Your dentist will be able to assess your individual case and recommend the most appropriate treatment option for you.

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