Root Canals: Everything You Wanted to Know but Were Afraid to Ask

Root canals may be one of the most dreaded procedures in dentistry, but they don’t have to be! While you may not enjoy getting a root canal, the fact is that leaving their symptoms and causes untreated may lead to much bigger problems (and pain). Knowing what to expect before, during, and after a root canal can help motivate you to seek much-needed treatment sooner.root canal

To know what to expect from a root canal, we’ll cover:


  • What is a root canal?
  • Signs and symptoms that you may need a root canal
  • Do root canals hurt?
  • Can my tooth become infected?
  • How much do root canals cost?


At My Family Dentistry, we’re dedicated to providing the most comfortable dentistry available. Even during root canals, you can rest assured that you’ll be receiving the highest quality of care.

What is a root canal?

Root canals become necessary when bacteria has infected the root canal of one of your teeth. They’re also essential in preventing reinfection and preserving your original tooth. To remove the infection, your dentist will extract the infected or inflamed pulp. 

Along with removing the infected tissue, your dentist will preserve your tooth by:

  • Cleaning
  • Disinfecting
  • Filling 
  • Sealing 

A tooth infection can lead to pain within the tooth as well as degeneration. Your dentist will administer X-rays if they suspect an infection. If signs of infection are found, they will begin prepping for the root canal procedure.

What to Expect During a Root Canal Procedure

Your dentist will begin prepping for your root canal by sterilizing and applying an anesthetic to the infected area. They want to keep the infected area dry and sterile to ensure that the procedure is as safe and effective as possible.

Once the area has been anesthetized, disinfected, and dried, your dentist will drill a small hole so they can access the interior of the tooth. This provides them with access to the bacteria, damaged pulp and nerve tissue, as well as any other material inside the tooth that may need to be extracted. Once this has been done, your dentist will clean and rinse the treated area.

After the Procedure

Your dentist will seal up the hole after cleaning and rinsing your tooth. The hole will be sealed up with a paste usually made of a rubber compound. Your dentist may also recommend restorative treatment if your tooth has been significantly weakened by the infection. 

This part of the treatment process can occur immediately after the root canal. However, your dentist may decide to wait a week or so. They may opt for this route if they had to apply medication to the infected area during the procedure. This will allow the medication time to fight the infection.

Signs and Symptoms That You May Need a Root Canal

Infection or inflammation of tissue inside the root canal can stem from a variety of sources. With that said, the most common reason is when something has caused the pulp and nerve inside your tooth to become damaged in some way. 

This can include:

  • A cracked or chipped tooth
  • Decay deep within the tooth
  • Multiple dental procedures on the same tooth

There are also certain symptoms that may indicate a tooth infection and the need for a root canal. These can include:

  • Severe sensitivity to hot or cold liquids
  • Discoloration of the tooth
  • Problems chewing or talking due to swelling of the gums

These signs and root canal symptoms can indicate that the nerve and pulp tissue inside your tooth may be breaking down. They create an environment where bacteria can thrive and grow inside the pulp chamber, which leads to decay and even abscesses.

Do root canals hurt?

Here at My Family Dentistry, we understand that root canals probably aren’t your favorite dental procedure. Many people already dislike going to the dentist, and the fear of root canals can make them like it even less. However, they can be essential for maintaining your overall comfort and quality of life. 

As our own Dr. Austin Owen puts it, “They have a bad stigma, but they have really great results when done correctly. Patients associate them with pain, but it’s what gets them out of pain.” 

We want to ensure that you experience as little root canal pain as possible. This means only using the latest equipment, the highest quality anesthetics, and the most comfortable dental techniques. 

You may experience some mild discomfort during your root canal along with some soreness for a few days after the procedure. This includes the usage of over-the-counter pain relievers. Fortunately, extreme pain or discomfort is rare. Your dentist will be sure to provide aftercare instructions to help you avoid pain and make a speedy recovery.

Can my tooth become infected?

The risk of infection following a root canal is extremely low. These procedures have a very high success rate thanks to experienced dental experts that can effectively treat the infected area. From there, the responsibility falls on you to practice good oral health to ensure that your tooth will last a lifetime! 

Wrapping Up

Your dentist will recommend a root canal when bacteria has infected the pulp inside your tooth. They will drill a small hole to remove the infection as well as seal it up again. Tooth infections can have multiple sources, but the result is usually the nerve and pulp tissue inside your tooth breaking down. You may experience some mild discomfort during the procedure and after, but it should subside after a few days. 

My Family Dentistry is open Monday through Thursday and every other Friday. Give us a call at (865) 947-6453 or you can schedule an appointment online

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