What is a Root Canal?

Inside each of our teeth is a small space that extends down the roots of the tooth and is called the dental pulp. A healthy dental pulp provides the tooth with nutrients and nerve supply. If the pulp becomes infected or injured, the nerve can become so damaged that it dies. Root canal treatment is used in these situations to clean out the dead pulp so that the tooth can be saved.

Important follow up procedures.

Now that the infected nerve is removed your tooth will become more brittle and susceptible to fracture, so it can be advisable to place a crown over the tooth to prevent further deterioration.

You may notice your treated tooth change in colour. Though this discoloration is of no medical concern, you may be interested in having the tooth whitened, if you do not decide to place a crown over the tooth.

…a bit more detail


This illustration shows the steps involved in performing a root canal. The dental pulp is infected inflammation and pain.  An abscess forms at the base of the pulp .  Once at our office the area is numbed and prepared for the procedure.

Step 1

A small access hole is drilled through the biting surface of the affected tooth, allowing access to the pulp chamber.

Step 2

The diseased and dead pulp tissue is removed from the tooth with specially designed instruments used to clean out the root canals and pulp chamber. This is not painful as the area is numb and the tissue being removed is either dead or dying. Once the pulp, along with the nerves contained in it, is removed, the tooth itself can no longer feel pain. The canals are disinfected and prepared for the next step.

Step 3

The canals are then shaped with tiny flexible instruments to allow them to receive root canal fillings and sealers. The canals are washed and cleaned again to remove root canal debris prior to sealing them.  Usually a rubber-like material is used to fill the canal space. It is a thermoplastic material which is heated and then compressed into and against the walls of the root canals to seal them.  Sealing the canals is critically important to prevent them from becoming reinfected with bacteria.

Once complete a filling material will then be placed to seal the access hole that was made to treat the canals completing the treatment