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Why is a root canal done?

A root canal is done when tooth decay penetrates to the center of the tooth and has infected the tooth pulp (Psst… if the dentist diagnoses a cavity don’t procrastinate getting the filling. You need to prevent the decay from spreading so you don’t need a root canal). Left untreated, the infection can spread to the jawbone, adjacent teeth, and even the bloodstream.

A root canal may also be needed if a tooth is severely broken.

What happens during a root canal?

The doctor will numb the area around the infected tooth and isolate the tooth using a plastic barrier called a dental dam. Then he will remove the infected pulp and fill the hole with medication and a special filling material. You will need to get a crown to cover the top of your tooth.


  • Relieves severe toothache pain related to tooth infection
  • Stops the spread of infection to the jawbone, adjacent teeth, and the bloodstream
  • The natural tooth is saved


  • May take more than one visit to complete if the infection is severe enough to need a few days of treatment with antibiotics before it can be permanently closed.
  • Requires a crown to finish the restoration of the tooth