Root Canal Treatment

This procedure removes dental pulp when it has become dead or infected. Dental pulp is the soft core of the tooth. It contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. The pulp extends from the top of the tooth, called the crown, all the way down to the roots, in branches called canals.

  • Call Your Doctor

    After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the area around the tooth
    • Tooth loosens after root canal treatment
    • Headache, muscle aches, dizziness, or general malaise
    • Pain that you cannot control with the medications you have been given

    In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.

  • Definition

    This procedure removes dental pulp when it has become dead or infected. Dental pulp is the soft core of the tooth. It contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. The pulp extends from the top of the tooth, called the crown, all the way down to the roots, in branches called canals.

    Tooth
    nucleus factsheet image
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • What to Expect

  • Reasons for Procedure

    Dental pulp may become infected because of:


    • An untreated
      cavity
    • Trauma to the tooth
    • Gum disease

    When dental pulp becomes infected or dies, a painful abscess within the jawbone will occur. Removing dead or diseased dental pulp will prevent infection from spreading to other areas of the mouth and destroying bone around the tooth. If a root canal is not done, the tooth will need to be removed.

    Common signs of pulp problems include:

    • Pain when biting down on a tooth
    • Pain when the tooth is not being used
    • Sensitivity to hot or cold food or beverages
    • Tooth discoloration
    • Swollen gums around the infected tooth
    • A draining boil-like structure (called a fistula) on the gum adjacent to the tooth

  • Possible Complications

    Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a root canal, your dentist will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

    • Pain and swelling
    • Surgical-wound infection
    • Persistent abscess
    • Inability to save the tooth

    Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

    • Smoking
    • Immune system disorders
    • Bleeding disorders

    • Circulatory problems that can cause healing problems (such as
      diabetes)

    Be sure to discuss these risks with your dentist before the procedure.