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What is a root canal treatment (RCT)?

What happens during a root canal treatment?

  • X-rays will be taken of the tooth

  • The tooth area will be numbed with local anesthetic

  • The tooth will be isolated with a small latex sheet (please advise if you have an allergy)

  • All tooth decay will be removed

  • The dentist will gain access to the pulp through the top part of the tooth, the pulp will be removed from the pulp system and the canal cleaned

  • A special laser is sometimes used to activate the cleaning solutions

  • This will be repeated if there is more than one canal in your tooth

  • After the root canal(s) are cleaned they are completely filled with a natural rubber material

  • Root canal treatments are routinely completed in one appointment, however in situations of persistent infection medication is inserted into the canal for weeks after which time the treatment will be completed at a second appointment 


What is a permanent restoration?

  • Once your root canal treatment is complete you will need to return to your general dentist to have the temporary filling replaced and possibly have a crown placed on the tooth

  • Please call your dentist within two weeks of your root canal treatment in order to make an appointment for this permanent restoration

  • Your temporary filling can last up to 4 weeks if necessary

What are the risks and complications of a root canal treatment?


  • Mild temporary pain due to inflammation of the tissues, this can last 7-10 days

  • Tooth fracture due to reduced strength and durability of the tooth

    • If this occurs the tooth may need to be extracted

    • This risk is reduced if a crown is placed during permanent restoration


  • The fine metal files used to clean inside the root canals may break during use and remain in the tooth, if this occurs the tooth may need to be removed

  • Depending on the size and shape of the roots there is a risk of creating a hole in the side of a tooth during the cleaning process

  • Severe or persistent pain:  if this occurs please return to us for a follow up

  • Infection:  if this occurs please call the office



Success rates of root canal treatments vary depending on the condition of the tooth prior to treatment.  If the tooth has already had a prior root canal the success rate is lower.  Sometimes the tooth is unable to be saved with more treatment and requires extraction.

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Root canal treatment is the removal of infected or inflamed pulp with the goal of saving a tooth that might otherwise require extraction.


When is root canal treatment needed?

A root canal treatment is needed when the pulp of the tooth is diseased. Antibiotics are not effective in treating root canal infections.  The other treatment option is removal of the tooth.  Root canal therapy can save your tooth allowing for a better bite (more efficient chewing), keep your natural tooth, and protect your other teeth from wear and tear.

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