What IS A Root Canal and Why Do I Need One?

cross section of tooth

A root canal (endodontic treatment) is a procedure to remove the inner part of a tooth, the pulp, containing the nerve and blood supply when that tissue has become infected.

Why would the nerve, or pulp, become infected? There can be several reasons:

1)      Chronic trauma from clenching/grinding or an old filling or crown.

2)      Acute trauma from being hit.

3)      Direct infection from a large cavity.

Once the nerve tissue has become infected the only treatment is to remove the entire tooth or remove the infected part with a root canal.

People often think that a root canal removes the roots of the tooth. However, the entire hard structure of the tooth remains. Only the soft inner living portion is removed.

Abscessed or infected teeth may range from very painful to not painful at all. Many times an abscessed tooth that the patient is unaware of is diagnosed from a routine x-ray of the tooth. Symptoms of a tooth that is becoming infected may include pain on chewing, increasing sensitivity to hot or cold, or swelling around the tooth.

The vast majority of root canals are done with no pain, just like a filling. Don’t let your friends tell you otherwise.

Generally, after a root canal is done, a crown is placed on the tooth to prevent breakage. The tooth should then feel and function just like your other teeth.

If you have any questions about root canals or any other dental treatment, please call Dr. Marchbanks at 817-261-2747.

About Mark C. Marchbanks, D.D.S.

Dr. Mark Marchbanks has practiced dentistry in Arlington Texas since 1983. He enjoys caring for patients young and old. You can find Dr. Marchbanks on
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If it's been more than 6 months since your last teeth cleaning, give us a call today to schedule your check-up.