Root Canal Therapy: your questions answered!

Does your tooth require a root canal? Have you had root canal therapy but still aren't 100% clear on the process?

If you have experienced an abscessed tooth and the pain associated with one, then most likely you have had the pleasure (tongue in cheek here ) of having a “root canal”. Why did this happen in the first place? And what is the dentist doing when they fix the tooth?


Let’s start with the “why”: perhaps the tooth has been bothering you for some time but not enough that you thought you should see your dentist. Maybe you and your dentist already know about this tooth and you both decided to just “watch” it for now and see how it progresses. Or, you may have experienced recent trauma to your mouth. Or, perhaps you haven’t seen your dentist for a cleaning and checkup in quite some time and what may have been caught earlier, has now turned into a nagging abscess tooth. There are many more reasons as to “why” your tooth now has an abscess. There are other contributing factors as well, like your genetics, your diet, and medical conditions you may have. But what they all have in common is that somehow the innermost part of the tooth, the pulp, has been invaded by bacteria, or injured in some other severe way.


What are the steps to treating an abscessed tooth? After taking an X-ray, you and your dentist will discuss the best treatment options to save your tooth. If it’s possible to have root canal therapy to remove the infection/decay then this is often the best option. A dentist will usually recommend saving your tooth unless there are other problems with the tooth that make it unlikely to be savable in the long run, or if the tooth interferes with a bigger plan that you may have for your mouth.


Once you have made the decision to have the root canal therapy, your dentist will then proceed to

freeze the area he/she needs to treat and then, typically, their dental assistant will set you up with the beloved rubber dam! Most people hate the rubber dam, but it is often the best tool for keeping your saliva out of the inner part of the tooth. There is no use cleaning the tooth out if more bacteria washes in with your saliva!

Using various dental instruments, your dentist will clean out the decay and infected

canals. Just an FYI…most posterior teeth (back molars) have between 3-5 canals and the anterior teeth (closer to the front of your mouth) have between 1-3 canals. Although x-rays are taken, sometimes there is a hidden canal that didn’t show on the X-ray. Surprise!


Depending on which tooth is infected, this will take your dentist between 1.5-2.5 hours. The more canals you have, the more time the dentist will need to ensure ALL of your canals are cleaned and irrigated properly. If they aren’t all cleaned, then it is possible that residual infection in one of the canals may cause a problem with the tooth later.


Once root canal therapy has been completed, your dentist will often recommend a porcelain crown to help reinforce the tooth. A tooth that is damaged enough to need root canal therapy has usually become structurally weak, and so needs the extra protection of the crown in order to avoid breaking in the future. Any back tooth with a root canal will have a crown recommended, but it isn’t always necessary for teeth in the front.


From starting the root canal to finishing with a new porcelain crown, this treatment will require at least 2 visits at Smile Solutions Dental Centre and will take approximately 2-4 weeks to complete. Is there any good news here? Absolutely! Your beloved dentist just saved your tooth for many more years of chewing!

If you have any questions, please feel free to give our office a call at 778 294 1514. We are more than happy to help!