A root canal treatment will be necessary if the nerve of a tooth is compromised or infected due to decay or even trauma. The pulp or the living tissue inside the tooth is removed along with decay, bacteria and compromised nerve. The aim of this procedure is to regain the tooth functionality and alleviate any pain and swelling.

The root canal treatment is meant as an alternative to a tooth extraction. It’s generally believed by patients that an extraction will be a more affordable solution. Nevertheless, in the long run, a missing tooth can cause numerous problems to the neighboring teeth. Root canals safe patients more costly procedures like implants, extractions, crowns and bridges. Root canals can be a permanent solution, but in certain cases where the tooth is not maintained properly, a new root canal treatment might be necessary.

Common symptoms that you need a root canal:

  • Extreme sensitivity to heat, cold and pressure
  • Severe toothache pain
  • Swelling and tenderness in gums
  • Frequent tooth and gum pain
  • A significant cavity
  • An unpleasant odor and discharge (pus) from the gums
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the affected area or tooth
  • Presentation of a pustule or abscess
  • If the abscess is left untreated, the infection can reach your jaw bone. If so, an emergency treatment is required to drain and disinfect the area before the root canal can take place. Make sure to inform your dentist about any abnormal swelling


Pulpectomy is part of the root canal procedure. Is the process of removing all the infected and decayed pulp(tooth living structures), in order to preserve the tooth. This procedure is often performed in patients that still have the baby tooth. Normally the roots of baby teeth reabsorb naturally to allow the definite teeth to take their place.

Especial re-absorbable materials (Approved by the Canadian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry) are used to replace the pulp. This is a safe procedure most often misunderstood as unnecessary as the baby tooth will be replaced as the patients mature. It is imperative to treat an infected tooth as any other threatening infection. If the infection advances it could lead to more painful and serious infection like bone abscesses among others.

Root canal procedure

The root canal procedure might take a few appointments to be finished depending on the severity of the infection. Some of this procedure will be spaced out to drain the infection completely.

First, your dentist will start by administrating a topical and local anesthesia.

The dentist will place a “rubber dam” (rubber sheet) so isolate the infected area more effectively. After your tooth and the tissue around it is completely numb, your dentist will proceed to make an opening with a fast speed drill to remove the decay along the tooth.

This opening will be extended until the pulp is found. With especial dental disinfectants and instruments (root files), the pulp, nerve, and bacteria is removed and cleaned repeatedly. The tooth will be filled with a material called gutta-percha (non-reactive and biocompatible).

After the tooth is completely clear of any infection, the tooth is filled and sealed. It is suggested to place a crown or cap over the treated tooth to protect it from further damage. The crown preparation will take another two appointments but will provide a long lasting and effective protection to the weakened tooth.

How to prevent a root canal?

A root canal can be prevented by:

  • Regular brushing and flossing
  • Attend to your regular dental cleanings(once or twice a year)
  • Use a mouth guard when practicing contact sports
  • Have your fillings checked at your regular dental check-ups

Make sure to book an appointment at any sign of discomfort with your fillings.