What is a Root Canal and Why do I Need One?


11 August 2022

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Root canals are probably the most commonly-performed dental procedures today. A root canal is a dental procedure that removes the decay from your tooth’s root and pulp. Teeth are covered with an outer enamel layer, over a layer of dentin. The core of the tooth is soft within and extends through the root to your jawbone. The tooth’s core includes the dental pulp which has the connective tissues, blood vessels and nerves. 

When the soft core of a tooth suffers from decay, the pulp can become swollen and infected. This condition requires a root canal procedure as treatment. 


What is the Root Canal?


A root canal is similar to a small Roto-Rooter, which removes decay to save an infected tooth. The root canal procedure involves:

  • Extracting bacteria and decay from tooth pulp, nerve and root 
  • Disinfecting the surrounding area with antibiotics 
  • Filling the empty roots with filler-material 
  • Sealing the treated area to prevent decay later on 

You can get a root canal treatment from your usual dentist or from dental specialists known as Endodontists. The root canal treatment preserves your natural tooth and prevents it from further decay. However, it may make the treated tooth more fragile. This is the reason why a root canal treated tooth is usually covered with a dental crown. 


Root canal


Why do you need a Root Canal?


The best way to determine if you need a root canal procedure is by consulting a dentist. Still, there are some signs you can look for. In case you notice any of the listed signs and symptoms, it is imperative that you see a dentist as soon as possible. 

These are some common signs that signal the need to get a root canal:


1 . Constant pain

A constant pain in the tooth is a common sign of needing root canal treatment. This pain could be constant or sporadic and may return any time. You may feel the pain deep within the tooth, right up to your jawbone. Besides this, severe tooth decay also causes pain in your face too. 

There are several causes for such toothache , including:

  • Gum disease 
  • Cavity 
  • Damaged filling 
  • Sinus infection or another problem 
  • Impacted tooth may be infected

Irrespective of the cause of pain, you should always see a dentist if you have tooth pain, especially if the pain is constant. Getting tooth pain diagnosed and treated early gives you more chances of a successful root canal procedure. 


2 . Heat and cold sensitivity 

If you feel sensitivity in your tooth while drinking something hot or cold, then this too may indicate a need for root canal procedure. The sensitivity to heat or cold signals that the nerves and blood vessels in your tooth are either damaged or infected. 


3 . Discoloured tooth

An infection in the pulp of the tooth can result in discolouration in the tooth. If the tooth gets injured or suffers damage to the internal tissue of the roots, then this gives the tooth a discoloured, greyish-yellow appearance. 

Although there are other causes for tooth discolouration, it is still recommended to seek the help of your dentist when you notice it. 


4 . Swollen gums

If you feel the gums surrounding the decaying/damaged tooth swelling then you may need to undergo a root canal treatment. The swelling could be infrequent and subside before coming on again. You may also feel that the affected gums are tender to touch and often painful too. This swelling of the gums is often caused by acidic waste products from the dead tooth’s pulp tissues. 


5 . Pain when eating or touching tooth

If you feel pain in your tooth when you eat something, or even touch the tooth, it may indicate severe nerve damage or serious tooth decay. This usually requires a root canal as a treatment procedure. This is especially true in case the sensitivity persists and the pain remains even when you stop eating. 




Root canal procedure helps tens of millions of people to save their original teeth intact. This treatment procedure is commonly performed to treat decayed tooth/teeth and damaged tooth roots. Dental root canal procedures can be handled professionally by a certified dentist or endodontist. 

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