Of All The Nerve! The Truth About Root Canal Treatment

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Has your dentist told you that you need root canal treatment? You may find yourself wondering what this procedure entails and if you really need it performed on your tooth. However, root canal treatment can help to save your tooth and prevent it from being extracted. Here are a few things you need to know about root canal treatments.

Why Do I Need Root Canal Treatment?

Root canal treatment becomes necessary when the pulp of the tooth becomes infected. The pulp contains the soft tissues of the tooth such as blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissues. Most of the pulp is located in the center of the tooth (in the pulp chamber) and some of it extends through the root of the tooth (in the root canals).


The pulp becomes infected when bacteria enters the tooth through openings caused by decay or injury. Those who have an infected pulp may experience toothache, tooth sensitivity, or swelling to the gums, face, or neck. If left untreated, the infected pulp can cause abscess, damage to the jaw bone, or harm to rest of the tooth.

What Does Root Canal Treatment Entail?

You may feel nervous about undergoing a root canal procedure. However, modern dentistry has advanced to make this treatment as painless as possible. Root canal treatments usually involve the following steps.

  1. A local anesthetic is used to numb the tooth.
  2. A rubber-like sheet called a dental dam is placed around the tooth to protect it and keep it clean.
  3. An opening is drilled into the tooth.
  4. The infected pulp is removed from the tooth.
  5. The pulp chamber and root canals are cleaned out, often with a medication that kills bacteria.
  6. The interior of the tooth is filled with a rubber compound called gutta-percha, followed by a dental filling.
  7. The tooth is covered and protected with a dental crown.