Want to book an appointment with us?

What is a Root Canal Treatment: 9 FAQs Answered

What is a Root Canal Treatment: 9 FAQs Answered

If your dentist has advised you a root canal treatment, you might be a bit worried and nervous, especially if you haven’t ever had the treatment before. Well, the treatment is quite common and isn’t as scary as you might have imagined. According to the results of a 2005-2006 survey performed by the American Dental Association, it was found that about 22.3 million root canals were conducted that year. The survey results were shared by the American Association of Endodontists. Here we have provided an overview of what is a root canal as well as the answers to some FAQs about the treatment. 

What is Root Canal Treatment? 

Endodontic or root canal treatment involves treating the inside of a tooth. This treatment is needed when the pulp is infected or inflamed. The infection or inflammation can have various causes, such as a chip or crack in the tooth, faulty crowns, repeated dental procedures on tooth, or deep decay. Additionally, pulp damage may be caused by trauma to tooth even if there are no visible cracks or chips on the tooth. If infection or inflammation of pulp is not treated, it can result in an abscess or cause pain.  

In root canal treatment, the infected or inflamed pulp is removed. The tooth’s inside is cleaned and disinfected carefully, and filled and sealed using a material similar to rubber, known as gutta-percha. Then, a filling or crown is used to restore the tooth and protect it. Once restoration is performed, the tooth functions as any other tooth. 

 FAQs about Root Canal Treatment 

1. Why is root canal treatment needed? 

If the pulp of a tooth becomes severely infected or inflamed, due to injury or decay for example, it’s important to remove the tissue so as to save the tooth as well as prevent the spread of infection. Adults don’t need the pulp; the pulp’s role is helping with development of teeth during childhood.  

2. Does root canal treatment have any alternative? 

You may choose to get the entire tooth extracted, however, trying to save it is always better, especially because root canal treatment has a high success rate (more than 90%). By saving a tooth, several other problems can also be prevented from occurring later. These may include loss of density and volume of jawbone, trouble eating, and bite problems due to teeth shifting position.  

3. What happens during the procedure? 

In endodontic treatment, first a root canal dentist numbs the area and then makes a tiny hole in the tooth for accessing the canals and pulp chamber. The dentist removes the diseased tissue and disinfects the canal(s) and pulp chamber all the way up to root end(s). The front teeth in the mouth consist of generally one canal and one root, while the back teeth consist of three or four canals in general and two or three roots. The pulp chamber and those canals are filled with a biocompatible, inert material, and sealed using adhesive cement. A temporary filling is used to cover the access hole. 

4. Is the treatment painful?  

The discomfort caused by the procedure is no more than that of a filling. The discomfort associated with root canal treatment is because of the disease, rather than the cure. The infections for which the treatment is performed are often painful since there are inflamed tissues with many nerves, and hence are very sensitive. Endodontic treatment relieves this pain.  

5. What happens after the treatment? 

After the treatment, you may find your tooth feeling sensitive for a few days. However, you can relieve any discomfort with anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or over-the-counter medication for pain. Your root canal dentist will instruct you not to chew on the tooth that has received the treatment until permanent filling is placed on it, which can be done after a few days. Based on the extent of damage the tooth had originally, it may require a full-coverage crown. Your dentist would discuss those options with you.  

6. How much time does root canal procedure take? 

A study conducted in 2015 by Amy Wong, a dental student, and published by National Institutes of Health, showed that most of the single root canals consume less than an hour. For procedures that involve multiple root canals, she found that the time taken is less than two hours on an average.  

As reported by her exact findings, a single root canal takes an average of 37 minutes while multiple root canals take 73 minutes on an average.  

7. Is the root canal treatment safe? 

The American Association of Endodontists outlines that the root canal treatment is an effective and safe procedure. The root canal procedure is performed successfully on millions of people every year.  

8. What happens if the recommended procedure is refused? 

If an individual doesn’t have the recommended procedure performed, it may lead to loss of the tooth. The infection and decay may spread and may even lead to more tooth decay. Not treating the problem in time may result in loosing teeth which are near the original source. The issues may be more severe than noticeable tooth loss or tooth decay. Once tooth infection starts spreading, it may reach other areas of the body causing substantial damage. An abscessed root canal may lead to brain damage or may be fatal.  

So, it’s crucial to treat and remedy the infection at the earliest.  

9. How to avoid the necessity of root canal procedure in the future? 

Brush and floss your teeth every day to keep them decay-free. Take a healthy diet that has low levels of sugar. Avoid acidic beverages like soda. Go for professional dental exams and cleanings at regular intervals. In case you actively participate in sports activities, consider buying a custom-made mouthguard for protecting your teeth from any injury. 


The answers to these FAQs about root canal treatment might have helped you get a clearer idea of what is a root canal treatment and its importance. If you need the treatment, choose a reputed dental office specializing in endodontic treatment. Des Moines Dental Group, with its offices in Airport and Urbandale, has well-experienced endodontists and dental professionals to provide you the best possible care. 

Request An Appointment Online

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.