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.

Normal Tooth Anatomy
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Possible Complications

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your dentist will review potential problems, like:

  • 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 Heatlhy—American Dental Association https://www.mouthhealthy.org 

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

CANADIAN RESOURCES

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

Dental Hygiene Canada http://www.dentalhygienecanada.ca 

References

Root canals: FAQs about treatment that can save your tooth. Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association website. Available at: https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/r/root-canals. Accessed March 5, 2018.

Root canal treatment. Encyclopedia of Surgery website. Available at: http://www.surgeryencyclopedia.com/Pa-St/Root-Canal-Treatment.html. Accessed March 5, 2018.

What is a root canal? Know Your Teeth—Academy of General Dentistry website. Available at: http://www.knowyourteeth.com/infobites/abc/article/?abc=R&iid=326&aid=1310. Updated January 2012. Accessed March 5, 2018.

6/2/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance  http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T905141/Treatment-for-tobacco-use  : Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.