Purpose, Process, and Risks of a Root Canal

Purpose, Process, and Risks of a Root Canal

Purpose, Process, and Risks of a Root Canal

If you have been experiencing persistent pain in your tooth or sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, there is a high chance that the root of your tooth is infected. In such cases, a root canal treatment might be necessary. You might feel a bit nervous about the procedure, but it is nothing to fear! In this blog, we will delve into the purpose, process, and risks associated with a root canal treatment. We’ll tell you what it involves when it is needed, how it is done, and the potential risks associated with it. Lastly, we’ll guide you on the recovery process so that you can take the necessary precautions to ensure a full and speedy recovery.

What is a Root Canal?

A root canal is a dental procedure done to remove damaged or infected tissue from the inner part of a tooth, called the dental pulp. This procedure is usually performed by a general dentist or endodontist using local anesthesia to numb the area. The process includes the removal of nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels from inside the pulp chamber, which is then cleaned and sealed. In some cases, a dental crown may be used to cover the treated tooth. The primary objective of a root canal is to save the natural tooth and allow the person to live confidently and enjoy life to the fullest. This simple procedure can prevent future infections and further damage to the tooth or surrounding teeth, avoiding the need for more complex procedures like extractions or implants.

When is a Root Canal Needed?

A root canal is necessary when a tooth’s pulp (nerve) becomes infected with bacteria either due to an injury or severe, untreated decay. The infection can cause pain, and if left untreated, it can worsen leading to the removal of the tooth. Root canal procedures can be done in one or more appointments, depending on the complexity of the case. During the root canal procedure, a rubber sheet is used as a dam to isolate the affected tooth. After accessing and removing the pulp, the canal is disinfected before being sealed with a filling. If you experience swelling, tenderness, or inflammation near a tooth, seek your dentist’s advice to see if you may need a root canal.

How is a Root Canal Performed?

If you have a damaged or infected tooth, your dentist may recommend a root canal. The procedure typically lasts between 30-60 minutes and may require one or two visits, depending on the complexity of the case. The dentist will start by numbing the tooth and surrounding gums, followed by the placement of a dental dam. Small tools will then be inserted into the tooth to remove any damaged pulp. Next, the canal will be disinfected, shaped, and filled. The root canal is performed to remove dead or decaying nerve tissue and bacteria from inside the tooth. The procedure is a common and effective way to save a tooth and prevent tooth loss. However, it is important to note that as with any medical procedure, there are certain risks associated with a root canal, including infection or damage to surrounding teeth or tissues. Your dentist will discuss these risks with you before the procedure.

Potential Risks of a Root Canal

Root canal procedures are a very common dental treatment that can help individuals save their damaged teeth. However, there are potential risks associated with the procedure. One such complication is that of reinfection, partial root filling, or the perforation of either the tooth crown or the canal itself. Loss of the tooth may result if the damage is too deep, or the enamel is too frail to withstand the treatment. An abscess forming at the root of the tooth due to ineffective antibiotics or inadequately removed infected material is another risk. There is no such thing as a 100% clean root canal, and if a root canal fails, retreatment may be necessary. In rare cases, the procedure can cause damage to surrounding teeth. In addition, complications from the anesthesia used during the root canal procedure are also possible. Therefore, it is essential to discuss the potential risks with your dentist before undergoing the treatment.

Recovery After a Root Canal

Though root canals are generally low-risk dental procedures, some pain, and discomfort are expected after every root canal procedure. Pain and soreness can last for several days, but they can be managed with over-the-counter medication. Avoid chewing with the affected tooth until the procedure is fully completed with a permanent filling or crown. Keeping good oral hygiene with regular brushing, flossing, and mouthwash can help ease recovery.

It’s crucial to know that root canals have a high success rate (95%) of saving an infected tooth, and the treated tooth can last a lifetime without any issues. Regular dental visits are recommended, informing a dentist of any changes in symptoms or discomfort can help detect and address any root canal problems sooner rather than later. Immediately following a root canal procedure, the mouth may feel numb for a few hours, and this remedial time is essential.


In conclusion, a root canal is a common and essential dental procedure that can save a severely damaged or infected tooth. The process involves removing the infected or damaged pulp from the tooth, cleaning and shaping the root canal, and then sealing it to prevent further infection. While there may be some potential risks associated with the procedure, they are rare, and your dentist will take every precaution to protect you. After the procedure, it may take a few days to recover completely, but most patients can return to their normal routine quickly. If you have any questions or concerns about root canals, talk to your dental professional. They can help you decide if a root canal is right for you and guide you through the process. Don’t wait until you’re in severe pain; schedule an appointment with Center For Family & Implant Dentistry today!