Patient Information   |   What Is a Root Canal?   |   What To Expect   |  Forms & Resources

What Is a Root Canal?

If your dentist has referred you for a root canal, you’re probably wondering, “What is a root canal?” and, “How bad will it hurt?”

A root canal is the common name for a dental procedure known as “endodontic treatment.” Medically-speaking, the root canal is the passage in the root of a tooth through which its nerve and blood vessels enter the pulp cavity. Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp, or soft tissue inside the root canal, becomes inflamed or infected.

It’s likely you’re already dealing with pain or sensitivity around the inflamed or infected tooth, which may be causing you to avoid liquids or chewing on the affected side of your mouth. The good news is that relief is in sight.

Healthy Tooth

1
2
3
4
5
Diagram of a healthy tooth
1

Crown

2

Pulp

3

Gums

4

Root Canal

5

Jawbone

Inflamed Tooth

1
2
3
Diagram of an inflamed tooth
1

Decay

2

Inflamed Pulp

3

Abscess

What causes root canal inflammation or infection?

Your inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes, including:

  • deep decay in the tooth
  • repeated dental procedures on the tooth
  • a crack or chip in the tooth
  • an injury to the tooth that may have caused pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks

If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.

Will my root canal treatment be painful?

No. Root canal treatment is not as painful as many fear. You will likely be quite comfortable and at ease during your endodontic treatment.

Dr. Lavin only works with one patient at a time—giving you his complete attention and focus to ensure a smooth and relaxed process. You’ll be gently reclined throughout the procedure and should not feel much pain or discomfort at all.

How long does root canal therapy take?

Most root canal therapies can be completed in one or two appointments at Dr. Lavin’s office. However, restoring the tooth after root canal therapy is necessary to ensure that the tooth functions properly. Any appointments necessary to completely restore the tooth should not be considered part of the root canal process and would be performed by your referring dentist.

Learn more about what to expect before, during and after your treatment.