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Root Canal Treatment


  • Root canal treatment is a procedure to remove diseased pulp from a root canal in your tooth. Each tooth has a crown, dentin, pulp, and one or more roots. The crown is the part of your tooth that you can see. Dentin is hard tissue under the crown that surrounds the pulp. The pulp is tissue that contains nerves and blood vessels that fill your tooth roots. Each root secures your tooth to your gum and jawbone. A root canal can treat infected pulp or an abscess (pus pocket) around your tooth root. You may need root canal treatment if you have a hole in your tooth from a cavity (decay).
    Tooth Anatomy
  • You may also need root canal treatment if you have tooth damage from an injury. Tooth damage and infection may cause pain and swelling. It may be hard for you to bite down with the infected tooth. Your root canal treatment is completed in one or more visits to your caregiver. During the procedure, dental tools are used to clean the damaged or infected pulp out of your tooth root. A filling is put into your root canal to replace the pulp that was removed. Root canal treatment may resolve your symptoms, such as swelling. Root canal treatment may resolve an infection, and prevent the infection from spreading to nearby areas. Root canal treatment may allow you to use your tooth without having pain.
    Infected Tooth



  • Keep a current list of your medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Use vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
  • Take your medicine as directed: Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him about any medicine allergies, and if you want to quit taking or change your medicine.
  • Antibiotic medicine: You may be given antibiotic medicine to treat an infection from germs called bacteria.
  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

  • You may need to see your caregiver within one week to complete your root canal treatment. During this visit, your caregiver replaces the temporary filling with a permanent one. You may also need a follow-up visit so your caregiver can check how your tooth is healing. You may need a follow-up visit and an x-ray to check your tooth every year for four years. Tell your caregiver if you are having pain or problems biting down with your tooth.

Caring for your teeth:

Take good care of your teeth to prevent cavities, tooth injuries, and other tooth problems. Make regular visits with your dental caregiver to check your teeth for problems. If you think you have a cavity or other tooth problem, see your dental caregiver right away.

Quit smoking:

If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking harms your body in many ways, and can make it harder for you to heal after your procedure. You are also more likely to have heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and other health problems if you smoke. Quitting smoking will improve your health and the health of those around you. Ask your caregiver for more information about how to stop smoking if you are having trouble quitting.


  • You have a fever.
  • Your new filling falls out or feels like it is out of place.
  • Your tooth cracks or breaks.
  • Your tooth hurts when you bite down.


  • You have increasing pain in or around your tooth that does not go away with pain medicine.
  • You have new or increased swelling in your gums or face.
  • You have tooth pain that spreads up to your gums and cheek.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Root Canal Treatment (Aftercare Instructions)

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