A root canal is a dental treatment employed when a patient has an infected or abscessed tooth. For this endodontic treatment, dentists remove inflamed tooth pulp before cleaning, disinfecting, and filling the space. The soft pulp is inside the tooth, under the enamel and dentin layers. It helps with the growth and development of the tooth and contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue.

Situations Where a Root Canal Is Necessary


A root canal is necessary when the soft tissue inside the tooth (pulp) becomes infected or inflamed. It may occur due to decay, trauma, chips or cracks on the tooth, or repeated dental procedures on the tooth. 

An untreated cavity can cause an accumulation of oral bacteria that invades the pulp. Injury can damage the pulp without visible damage to the tooth. If untreated, pulp infection or inflammation can lead to pain or an abscess. 


Are You a Root Canal Candidate? 


Several symptoms can highlight your need for a root canal treatment. They include:

  • Persistent tooth pain

  • Swollen or darkening gums 

  • Sensitivity to cold and heat 

  • A pimple or boil on the gums

  • Tooth discoloration

  • Swollen jaw as a result of pus

  • Pain when you apply pressure on the tooth

  • A cracked or chipped tooth

  • A loose tooth

An oral exam will help to determine if you need a root canal. 

Preparing for a Root Canal

Root canals are safe and effective. An endodontist or general dentist can perform the procedure. The treatment can take 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the extent of damage. There are things you should do to prepare for root canal treatment. 

Take medications as prescribed, quit smoking, and eat healthy meals. Taking medications is vital if the tooth is severely infected. Smoking interferes with the body’s ability to recover from any surgery. 

During Root Canal Treatment 

Dental practitioners perform root canals in one of two visits. The procedure involves several steps. The dentist examines and takes X-rays of the injured tooth before the procedure.

  • Before treatment, the dentist will administer local anesthesia. They place a protective sheet (dental dam) over the treatment area after numbing the tooth. The sheet separates the tooth, keeping it clean and dry. 

  • The dentist creates a tiny opening in the crown. This helps them to get to the pulp.

  • The dentist will use tiny instruments to remove the pulp. 

  • Cleaning the pulp from the canal and shaping the space prepares the tooth for the filling. 

  • Dentists use a flexible biocompatible material to fill the canal (gutta-percha).

  • An adhesive cement helps to close up the root canal before filling the opening.

  • During a subsequent visit, the dentist will place a crown or restoration over the tooth to protect and restore it to full function.

Some patients may receive the crown at the same visit.

After Root Canal Treatment

Most people assume root canal treatment is painful. The truth is, after removing the infected or inflamed pulp, you should not experience pain. Contact your dentist if you experience throbbing pain after treatment. You might notice increased sensitivity for a few days after root canal treatment.

You can take OTC pain relievers to relieve the symptoms. Root canal treatment can relieve pain and keep infections from spreading to other teeth. It can eliminate the need for extractions and reduce the risk of bone damage.

For more on root canal treatment, visit Eagle Gate Dental at our office in Salt Lake City, Utah. Call 801-781-5300 to book an appointment today.