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Root Canals

Signs You Need a Root Canal


If you have an infection of the pulp, you may not feel any pain at first. But if it is not treated, the infection will cause pain and swelling. In some cases, an abscess will form. At Comfort Dental, root canal treatments are performed with advanced techniques and materials, making them far more comfortable and the treatment time much faster. After root canal treatment is complete, we will usually place a crown on your tooth to safeguard against fracture.

Dental team examining a patient's teeth at Comfort Dental Group

Call Us If

  • Your tooth hurts when you bite down on it, touch it or push on it
  • Your tooth is sensitive to heat
  • Your tooth is sensitive to cold for more than a couple of seconds
  • There is swelling near the tooth
  • Your tooth is discolored (whether it hurts or not)
  • Your tooth is broken

Why would you need a root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment is needed for two main reasons.

  • The first is infection. An untreated cavity is a common cause of pulp infection. The decay erodes the enamel and dentin of the tooth until it reaches a root canal. This allows bacteria to infect the pulp. Antibiotics can’t get to infections inside teeth. The inflammation caused by the infection reduces the blood supply to the tooth. The reduced blood supply also keeps the pulp from healing.
  • The second reason for a root canal is damage to the pulp that can’t be fixed. Trauma or a fractured tooth can damage the pulp. So can a lot of restoration, such as several fillings placed in the same tooth over a period of time.

When the pulp is inflamed but not infected, it may heal on its own. We may want to see if this will happen before doing root canal treatment. If the pulp remains inflamed, it can be painful and may lead to infection. An infection in the pulp can affect bone around the tooth. This can cause an abscess to form.

The goal of root canal treatment is to save the tooth by removing infected or damaged pulp, treating infection, and filling the empty root canals with a material called gutta percha.

If root canal treatment is not done, an infected tooth may have to be extracted. It is better to keep your natural teeth if you can. If a tooth is missing, neighboring teeth can drift out of line. They also can be overstressed from chewing. Keeping your natural teeth also helps you to avoid other treatments, such as implants or bridges. Also, if you ignore an infected or injured tooth the infection can spread to other parts of your body.

Having root canal treatment on a tooth does not mean that the tooth will need to be pulled out in a few years. Once a tooth is treated, it almost always will last the rest of your life.

The Length of Root Canal Treatment

Root canal treatment can be done in one or more visits. It depends on the situation. An uncomplicated root canal treatment often can be completed in one visit. Some teeth may be more difficult to treat because of where they are in the mouth. Some teeth have more roots than other teeth. Treating a tooth with many roots takes longer. Some teeth have curved root canals that are difficult to find. If you have an infection, you will visit us several times so that we can make sure the infection is gone. Once the root canal treatment is finished we will cover the treated tooth with a crown. The purpose of the crown is to prevent the tooth from breaking in the future.