A root canal is an endodontic dental procedure used to treat tooth infections. Treatment of tooth infections involves removing the infected tooth and cleaning out bacteria from the cavity. Undergoing root canal therapy means that the nerves and blood vessels of the problematic tooth are removed. This ensures that the infection will not spread throughout the remaining part of the tooth or to other teeth.

Your dentist can recommend a root canal for your tooth infection if you want to preserve your natural teeth. After the root canal, you will receive a filling or crown to strengthen the tooth and restore function. Root canal therapy is performed under local anesthesia, and your endodontist will remove your infected tooth before sealing it. This saves you from the extreme pain of tooth infection while maintaining your natural teeth.

Like other dental procedures, root canals may be prone to complications like tooth discoloration, root canal failure, and tooth fracture. You can ensure an increased success rate for your procedure by seeking expert dental services. At Washington Dental, we offer top-notch endodontic dental services for our patients in Carson, CA.

Overview of Root Canal Treatments

A root canal is a dental procedure that helps relieve the pain caused by an infected tooth. Sometimes, a cavity or crack in your tooth enamel can be an entryway for bacteria. When the bacteria reaches the tooth pulp, which contains nerves and blood vessels, it causes an infection. A tooth infection is characterized by throbbing pain, sensitivity, and discomfort in the tooth and surrounding gums.

During your root canal procedure, the dentist will remove the infected part of the tooth, clean out the bacteria, and seal the tooth with a filling. If the decay has compromised the tooth structure, your tooth could be strengthened with a crown. There are not many options for dealing with an infected tooth.

The alternative to a root canal is extracting the tooth. Tooth extraction causes serious dental complications, including tooth shifting and jawbone deterioration. Your dentist could recommend a root canal if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Tooth sensitivity. If you experience sharp pain and discomfort when you eat or drink hot or cold foods and drinks, your dentist can recommend a root canal. The root canal procedure allows for the removal of the nerves and prevents sensitivity.
  • Toothache that lingers. Most dental complications cause toothaches. However, the pain associated with an infected tooth is persistent and could radiate to the jaw and other teeth. Severe toothache is a dental emergency that needs to be assessed. You may need root canal therapy after determining the exact cause of the pain.
  • Gum abscess. When you have an infected tooth, puss will collect around your gums, causing an abscess. This could cause an unpleasant taste in your mouth. Your dentist will recommend that you undergo a root canal to eliminate the infection.
  • Pain when pressure is applied to the tooth. You may be a good candidate for a root canal if you experience severe pain in the tooth when you use pressure to chew your food. This type of pain can impact your ability to take in nutrition. Pain when you bite down could indicate an infection in the tooth pulp.
  • Cracked or chipped teeth. A tooth infection is not the only reason you may need a root canal. When your tooth enamel is cracked or chipped. The tooth pulp will be exposed. Before this exposure causes an infection, you may need to undergo a root canal treatment and filling of the tooth.
  • Loose tooth. Pus from an infected tooth can soften the bone where your tooth is attached, causing it to loosen. You can avoid losing the tooth through an extraction by undergoing a root canal.

Procedure for a Root Canal

Your root canal procedure will be performed over multiple dental visits, depending on the extent of tooth damage. The following are the steps involved in root canal treatment:

  • Dental Examination. When you report symptoms of a tooth infection, your dentist will evaluate your oral health. An X-ray may be performed to determine the extent of the condition.
  • Administering anesthesia. A root canal is an invasive procedure. Therefore, your dentist will administer local anesthesia to help avoid pain during the procedure.
  • Removal of the root pulp. The root pulp contains nerves and blood vessels that respond to sensitivity and pain. The endodontist will create an opening on the tooth crown and use sharp instruments to remove the infected pulp. The canal will then be cleaned to remove bacteria.
  • Tooth filling. If the opening on the tooth is left unattended, bacteria could reenter the tooth and cause further infection. Therefore, the tooth must be filled. Another reason for filling the tooth after root canal therapy is to strengthen its structure.
  • Crown restoration. If the tooth’s structure is severely compromised after a root canal, you will need to return for another appointment to fit the crown.

Root Canal Aftercare Instructions

A root canal is one of the best options for crippling the pain and discomfort of an infected tooth while maintaining your natural tooth. The procedure of removing an infected tooth pulp takes several dental visits. After the process, you may experience mild pain, which goes away after a few days. This occurs when the anesthesia used in the procedure wears off.

The success of every dental procedure lies in the competency and technique of how well you follow the care instructions given by your dentist following the procedure. The following are common root canal aftercare instructions:


You should avoid eating before the anesthesia wears off. This is because you could bite or injure the numb part of the mouth. In the days following the procedure, you should avoid foods that can hurt your sensitive mouth. You can avoid stress on the area where the procedure was performed by chewing on the other side of the mouth.

Your dentist will recommend that you focus on soft foods or foods that do not require vigorous chewing. Additionally, you must avoid hot foods.

Oral Hygiene

Good oral hygiene is critical to recovery after a root canal procedure. Although you should return to your routine oral hygiene after the procedure, you should use a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid injuring the infected tooth. Additionally, you should avoid using dental floss on the treated tooth to avoid damaging the filling.

Pain Management

Your dentist will recommend anti-inflammatory medication to manage pain after the procedure. Additionally, you may receive antibiotics that help avoid infection at the treatment site.

Regular Dental Checkups

A tooth infection is a serious complication that will result in severe pain and several appointments to resolve the problem. However, your visits to the dentist do not end when your root canal procedure ends. You must visit your dentist at least twice a year. During these dental visits, potential problems with the root canal can be identified and treated.

Benefits of Root Canal Treatment

A root canal is a good treatment option for individuals experiencing severe tooth decay and pain. Although some people may find extracting teeth a way to eliminate the problem, the impact of having a missing tooth is serious. The benefits of root canal treatment include:

Alleviated Pain

Tooth decay and infection of the pulp can cause severe toothache. Sometimes, the pain will radiate to the jaws, making it unbearable. The pain and discomfort from a tooth infection can distract you from work and make it challenging to chew your food normally. Root canal treatment focuses on removing the infected part of the tooth, alleviating the pain.

Eliminate Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth decay and infection expose the tooth nerves to cold and hot temperatures. Tooth sensitivity can be a devastating thing to experience. Removing the nerves and blood vessels in a root canal procedure helps you avoid sensitivity. This ensures that you can return to eating and drinking your favorite foods and drinks.

Protect Your Teeth from Further Infection

The infection of your tooth pulp will not stop with one tooth. The condition could spread to the surrounding teeth, which can severely impact your oral health. Forgoing the root canal can cause a worsening of the infection and damage to multiple teeth. Removing the tooth pulp from an infected tooth is like killing the tooth, which goes along with removing bacteria. This can prevent the spread of the infection and maintain good oral health.

A Root Canal is a Quick and Predictable procedure.

There are limited options for an infected tooth, including a root canal and extraction. Undergoing tooth extraction will result in multiple and long dental visits as you explore options for tooth replacement. This will not only take your time but also cost more. A root canal allows you to present your natural tooth, which can be strengthened with a crown or filling, depending on the extent of the damage.

Limited Post-Procedure Maintenance

Most dental prosthetics will last you up to ten years, and then repairs, restorations, or adjustments are required. With a root canal, the procedure offers a permanent solution for your dental complications. When the tooth pulp is removed, the infection ceases to spread.

Sometimes, you will not need a crown after the procedure. Therefore, the dentist will just use a filling to cover the cavity. This saves you the cost and need for restoration.

Prevents Teeth Shifting

Teams support each other. When one tooth is extracted, the structure is weakened, and the remaining teeth could shift. A root canal will only remove the damaged part of the tooth. This ensures that you retain your natural tooth. If the remaining tooth is weak, your dentist can strengthen it with a dental crown. After the root canal procedure, you do not need to worry about the impact of missing teeth.

Root Canal Treatment Complications

Root canal treatment is a common procedure with a predictable outcome. When a highly skilled endodontist performs your procedure, the success rate is high. However, you must always consider potential complications that could arise from the procedure, including:

Tooth Discoloration

The pulp is the living part of your tooth. If the pulp is infected, it must be removed during the root canal procedure. Although removing the tooth pulp relieved the pain from the procedure, your tooth's living part will be removed. Without the nerves and blood vessels, you could experience tooth discoloration. You can restore the desired tooth color by undergoing cosmetic procedures.

Anesthesia Allergies

Endodontists will administer anesthesia before performing a root canal procedure. Therefore, allergic reactions from anesthesia are a potential complication after your procedure. Anesthesia allergies are characterized by itching and skin rashes. You can inform your endodontist about your allergies before the root canal procedure begins.

Sinus Congestion

All parts of your body are interconnected. A procedure on one part can impact the function of another part. A common risk with root canal treatment is sinus congestion. This occurs when the root canal procedure is performed on the upper jaw. Sinus congestion occurs when fluid from your jaw leans through the membranes to your nose. Although sinus congestion is not a life-threatening complication, it can be irritating and cause severe headaches. A constant salty flavor in your mouth is a common sinus problem associated with a root canal.


The biggest concern for patients who undergo root canal treatment is reinfection. When you undergo a root canal, you expect the infected part of the tooth to be cleared. Although your endodontist will take the necessary steps to prevent reinfection, it could happen. Reinfection of your tooth could occur at any stage and result from the re-entry of bacteria into your tooth.

This could result from improper clearing or sealing of the cavity after the root canal. A reinfection is a sign of a failed root canal, and you may need to undergo the procedure again.

Tooth Cracking

After a root canal, the tooth structure is weakened. This is because part of the enamel will be removed to access the inflamed pulp. Additionally, the living parts of the tooth are removed, making it more vulnerable to breakage. If a severe tooth weakens after a root canal, your endodontist could recommend the placement of a crown.

Damage to Surrounding Nerves

When your tooth is severely infected, the root canal procedure can damage the nerves of the surrounding teeth. This could cause numbness, pain, and a tingling sensation.

Frequently Asked Questions on Root Canal Therapy

Most people associate dental procedures with pain and discomfort. Therefore, if your dentist recommends a root canal to remove the infected part of your teeth and prevent the need for extraction, you may need clarification on the outcome to expect from the procedure. The following are frequently asked questions on root canal treatment:

  1. How can I prepare for a root canal?

Your dentist will not perform a root canal the same day they detect an infection in your tooth. You may need to book an appointment for the procedure later. During this time, you can weigh your options and decide whether a root canal is the best option. Your dentist can advise you on the following ways to prepare for your procedure:

  • Take your medications. Teeth that require root canals are often inflamed and infected. Therefore, you may need to take your antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication.
  • Avoid smoking. Smoking can impact your immunity and delay healing after a root canal. Therefore, you may need to quit smoking several days before the procedure. This helps ensure that your body recovers faster after the procedure.
  • Eat healthy foods. Local anesthesia will be administered before a root canal procedure. For this reason, you may be unable to eat or drink anything for a few hours after the procedure. Taking healthy foods before the root canal helps eliminate the temptation to eat foods that can be detrimental to the success of the procedure.
  • Address your concerns. Root canals, like other dental procedures, can have various complications. Therefore, you must ask all questions you have about the procedure to your dentist and receive clarification. This helps ensure that you understand what the procedure entails and the potential outcome.
  1. Is the root canal painful?

Many people are afraid of the thought of undergoing a root canal due to the notion of pain associated with dental procedures. However, the root canal is not painful. Your dentist will use local anesthesia to ensure you do not experience pain or discomfort. Even after the anesthesia wears off, the source of infection will have been removed, and you could experience immediate relief from the procedure. If you experience severe pain in the tooth or gums after a root canal, you should seek primary care.

  1. Can a root canal fail?

Yes. There is no guarantee that root canal treatment will save your tooth and alleviate the pain of tooth pulp infection. Although a root canal performed by a competent dentist has a high success rate, your procedure could fail due to the following factors:

  • Coronal seal breakdown. Your endodontist will create a seal to protect the portion above the gums. If the seal is broken or compromised, bacteria could reenter the tooth and cause reinfection.
  • Crown breakdown. When your tooth is severely damaged due to an infection, you may need a crown after a root canal. Delaying the placement of the crown leaves the inner tooth exposed to bacteria and potential reinfection.
  • Failure to follow aftercare tips Your orthodontist will give you some aftercare instructions to ensure the success of your root canal. Failure to follow these recommendations could result in a failed procedure.
  • Ineffective canal treatment. After removing the infected tooth pulp, the endodontist must effectively clean the canal to remove bacteria. However, when the canals narrow or curve, bacteria could linger in the tooth and cause further damage.

You should look out for these symptoms of a failed root canal procedure and seek immediate care:

  • Severe toothache. After a root canal procedure, the tooth will be as good as dead. You do not expect to feel pain when the nerves and blood vessels are removed. A severe toothache after the procedure may be an indication of a problem with the procedure.
  • Gum swelling. Your swelling and discomfort after a root canal will resolve after several hours. If the swelling persists, you need immediate attention.
  • Gum abscess. You could develop a gum abscess if your root canal treatment fails and the infection lingers.
  1. How much does root canal treatment cost?

Dental concerns can be a cause for concern not only for the pain they cause but also for the cost associated with addressing the issues. Most people delay root canal treatment under the assumption that it is expensive. The cost of a root canal procedure varies depending on the following factors:

  • Tooth condition. A root canal for a cracked or chipped tooth may be cheaper than the procedure for a swollen or infected tooth. This is because the endodontist must treat the infection before root canal therapy.
  • Type of tooth. Root canals for molars and premolars may be more expensive than the procedure for front teeth. This is because of not only their positions but also the number of canals that need to be cleaned out.
  • Number of infected teeth. The number of teeth that need a root canal will dictate the cost of your procedure. The cost will increase with an increase in the number of problematic teeth.

Since a root canal is a treatment procedure, some insurance providers will cover the cost of the treatment. Before your root canal procedure begins, you must consult with your insurance company.

Find Reliable Dental Services Near Me

When you have an infected tooth that causes you extreme pain and discomfort, your dentist can recommend root canal treatment. This endodontic treatment involves the removal of the infected tooth pulp and cleaning out the bacteria before filling the tooth. Removing the pulp will alleviate the pain associated with the infection, prevent further tooth decay, and save your natural tooth from extraction.

Unlike popular belief, root canal therapy is not a painful procedure. Your dentist will administer anesthesia before the procedure to ensure that you feel comfortable. Your journey to ensuring good oral health does not end after a root canal. You must follow all the instructions your dentist gives, including proper dental hygiene, the right diet, and regular dental checkups, to avoid complications after the procedure.

Root canal treatment can be used on adults and children who have a permanent set of teeth. Undergoing a root canal procedure can be a nerve-wracking experience. Therefore, you will need the expert services we offer at Washington Dental. We serve patients seeking safe and reliable endodontic dental care in Carson, CA. Call us today at 310-217-1507 to book an appointment.