For a severely damaged, decaying tooth or a serious tooth infection (abscess), the dentist may recommend a root canal treatment. Root canals are used to repair and save a tooth instead of removing it.


The pulp is soft tissue inside the tooth that contains the nerves and blood vessels that provide nourishment for the tooth. It can become infected if the tooth has:

  • A deep cavity
  • Repeated dental procedures that disturb this tissue
  • A cracked or fractured tooth
  • Injury to the tooth (even if there’s not a visible crack or chip)

If untreated, the tissues around the root of the tooth can become infected. This can cause pain and swelling, and an abscess may form inside the tooth and/or in the bone around the end of the root of the tooth. An infection can also put the tooth at risk because bacteria can damage the bone that keeps your tooth connected to your jaw.


A root canal treatment usually takes 1 or 2 office visits to complete. During the procedure, there is little to no pain because the dentist will use local anesthesia to numb the tooth. Once the procedure is complete, there will likely be little to no pain.

During treatment, the dentist will:

  • Create an opening in the top of the tooth.
  • Remove the tooth’s nerve from inside the tooth and in the areas in the root, known as the root canal.
  • Clean inside the tooth and each root canal. The dentist will treat the tooth with germ-killing medicine.
  • Fill the root canals with a rubber-like material to seal them against future infection.
  • Place a temporary filling on the tooth to protect it until a definitive restoration like a permanent filling or crown can be placed at the earliest opportunity.

At the follow-up visit, the dentist will remove the temporary filling on the tooth and replace it with a regular filling or a crown to protect the tooth from further damage. A metal or plastic post may also be placed in the root canal to help make sure the filling materials remain in place. This will help support a crown if it’s needed. With proper care, the restored tooth can last a lifetime.

If you have any questions about root canals, don’t hesitate to contact us today at (719) 473-5122.