Many dental patients cringe when their dentist tells them, “You need a root canal.” But the fact is that root canal procedures are quite common and not any more intimidating than any other dental procedure. Still, it’s natural to fear the unknown, which is why we’ve compiled this list of FAQs regarding root canals:

  • Why would I need a root canal? Root canals are typically needed when the pulp inside a tooth becomes infected. This usually happens as a result of a badly decayed tooth, or when a crack has formed in the tooth, although there may be other causes as well.
  • What is involved in a root canal procedure? The process itself is pretty simple. Your dentist will remove the infected pulp from inside the tooth, then completely clean it and seal it off. Sometimes a crown is placed on top for an added measure of protection. Because a tooth doesn’t actually need the pulp material, it usually functions just like any other tooth after the procedure.
  • Can any dentist perform a root canal? While it’s true that any dentist will typically have the training required to perform a root canal, some prefer not to do these procedures themselves and will refer patients to either another dentist or an endodontist (a root canal specialist). But it’s not necessary to visit an endodontist for a root canal – you simply need an experienced dentists who offer root canal services.
  • Is the procedure painful? Thanks to modern dental technology, a root canal is no more or less uncomfortable than any other dental procedure – such as having a filling or getting a crown, for example. In fact, most patients who need a root canal are in quite a bit of pain to begin with, since it usually involves an infection inside the tooth. As a result, a root canal actually relieves pain rather than causing it.
  • Is it possible to need a root canal and not have any symptoms? In some instances, a patient may experience periodic bouts of pain that seem to go away on their own. Of course, that doesn’t mean that an infection goes away on its own. And a few patients may not experience any pain at all. Still, if an infection is present, it’s vital that the infected tissue is removed. If it’s not, it can lead to much more serious problems. This is yet another reason why it’s so important to visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams. Your dentist will be able to detect if infection is present – whether you’re feeling any pain or not.

For more information about root canals, ask your dentist.