Let’s Discuss Root Canals…

Why would you need a root canal?

Root canals are prescribed because of irreversible inflammation or infection in the nerve is present. Root canals are often indicated when tooth decay has gone untreated and progressed into the nerve. Other reasons for a root canal include injury to a tooth, like a crack or blunt force, which affects the nerve.

Any time a tooth has dental work, it sustains some trauma to the nerve. If when drilling, the tooth preparation approximates the nerve, the nerve may become irreversibly inflamed and require root canal treatment.

Symptoms indicating the need for root canal evaluation:

  • Pain, either sharp or throbbing
  • Swelling of the gum
  • Prolonged sensitivity to cold or heat
  • Damage or trauma to a tooth
  • Discoloration of the tooth

Dr. Patt might recommend a root canal — rather than extraction — because she believes the tooth is savable.  If both a root canal and an implant are reasonable options, she will discuss the pros and cons of each procedure with you so you can make the best decision.

In most cases, root canals save teeth.

According to the American Association of Endodontists, most root canals are highly successful. The pain that people fear is usually associated with the pre-operative symptoms related to an inflamed or infected nerve — not the root canal procedure. Sometimes patients are referred to an endodontist, a dentist who specializes in root canal procedures, and the health of the inside of the tooth.


Root canals don’t have to be painful. You can expect a similar amount of discomfort to what you might experience while getting a cavity filled. The procedure is performed during the course of 1-2 visits.

A local anesthetic is usually sufficient to completely numb the area.

The tooth is isolated with a rubber shield called a dental dam, which protects the tooth from bacteria, and protects the patient from the working field. A small hole is drilled to allow removal of the inflamed or infected pulp. The root canal system is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected using endodontic instruments and antibacterial solutions. Finally, the access cavity of the tooth is filled and sealed.

Molars may require a crown after the procedure to protect the tooth.

Most patients find that over-the-counter pain medication is all that they need to alleviate any pain or tenderness after the procedure. Some patients may need antibiotics.

You will be able to brush and resume normal chewing after a successful root canal treatment.


  • What are the advantages of a root canal vs. extraction or an implant? 
  • What can happen if I don’t get a root canal?
  • How many visits will the entire procedure take?
  • What is the typical cost of a root canal?
  • What percentage of root canals need follow up treatment?

You may discover that a root canal requires the fewest visits to the dentist.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, do not postpone visiting the dentist for an exam. It’s always in your best interest to act sooner than later.

Our team at BOCO Dental is here to answer any questions, and make your experience as pain-free and comfortable as possible.

Give us a call today at 303-530-1212.