Root Canal

Overview

Definition

This procedure removes dental pulp when it has become dead or infected. Dental pulp is the soft core of the tooth. It contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. The pulp extends from the top of the tooth, called the crown, all the way down to the roots, in branches called canals.

Tooth
nucleus factsheet image
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Possible Complications

Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a root canal, your dentist will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Pain and swelling
  • Surgical-wound infection
  • Persistent abscess
  • Inability to save the tooth

Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Smoking
  • Immune system disorders
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Circulatory problems that can cause healing problems, such as diabetes

Be sure to discuss these risks with your dentist before the procedure.

SymptomsandDiagnosis

Treatments

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.

RESOURCES

Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association http://www.mouthhealthy.org 

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research http://www.nidcr.nih.gov 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Dental Association http://www.cda-adc.ca 

Canadian Dental Hygienists Association http://www.cdha.ca 

References

Root canals. Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association website. Available at: http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/r/root-canals. Accessed February 19, 2016.

What is a root canal? Academy of General Dentistry website. Available at: http://www.knowyourteeth.com/infobites/abc/article/?abc=R&iid=326&aid=1310. Updated January 2012. Accessed February 19, 2016.

6/2/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance  http://www.dynamed.com : Mills E, Eyawo O, et al. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.