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Root Canal

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 6, 2024.

What is a root canal?

A root canal is a procedure to remove diseased pulp from your tooth. 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. You may need a root canal if your tooth is damaged or infected. An abscess (pocket of pus), cavities, or an accident or injury can also lead to a root canal.

How do I prepare for a root canal?

What happens during a root canal?

What happens after a root canal?

You may have some pain after your procedure. This is normal and should go away in a few hours. Your dental provider may prescribe pain medicine or recommend an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as an NSAID. Ask your provider when you can eat and drink again. Ask about any special instructions for caring for your tooth after a root canal. If a temporary crown is used, your provider will replace it with a permanent crown about 1 week later.

What are the risks of a root canal?

The cleaning fluid used to clean the root may enter nearby tissues and cause swelling, bruising, or an infection. The tip of a dental tool may get stuck in your root canal, or you may swallow the tip if it drops into your mouth. You may get a fistula (abnormal tissue opening) between your tooth root and your sinus. The diseased tissue may not be completely removed. The root may not be completely filled, or the seal may not be tight. This means germs could enter your tooth and cause an infection. You may need another root canal, or your tooth may need to be removed.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

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Further information

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