16 Questions About Root Canal Treatment; Answered!

Did your dentist advise you to take a Root Canal Treatment (RCT)? Don’t be nervous; we’ll answer the most common questions about this procedure so you can be prepared!

1. What does a root canal treatment look like?

Root canal treatment, also called endodontic treatment, refers to a dental procedure used to heal an infection of the pulp (the soft tissue at the centre of the tooth). The pulp contains vessels and nerves that initially help teeth grow until they are fully developed.

In an RCT, a small hole on the tooth’s surface is opened, the damaged pulp is removed, then the tooth is cleaned, sanitised, and dried with the appropriate dental tools.

After that, we use a specific material called “gutta-percha” to fill the area. Then, in most cases, the tooth gets sealed with a dental crown and protected from future infections.

2. How many root canals can a tooth have?

Anyone could imagine that a tooth can have as many root canals as the number of its roots. Therefore we can detect up to four canals in total on a tooth, but this is not always the case. Many patients had tooth roots with additional canals, which is actually because the internal system of the tooth is highly complex.

So the number of root canals depends entirely on the anatomy of your tooth. Any dentist should know the types of teeth that are more likely to have additional canals and even treat every tooth as if multiple canals are present.

3. How do you know if you need a root canal treatment?

The most common symptoms that will bring you to the dentist’s chair are continual or severe pain, swollen or tender gums, inability to consume too hot or too cold foods and drinks and a chipped or cracked tooth. Most of these symptoms indicate an infection to the pump, which is basically what we treat with the RCT.

4. Can a root canal infection go away?

An infection like that is impossible to go away on its own, and it’s really important that you won’t ignore any symptoms or leave it untreated. If you have any concerns or need extra information about the procedure, you can always book an appointment in our clinic, and we’ll help ease your symptoms and restore your health.

5. Is a root filling the same as a root canal treatment?

A root filling is commonly used to treat a tooth with little damage or minor decay. However, as we have discussed so far, your dentist will remove the inflamed or infected pulp with RCT, which means the problem is more severe and needs more invasive treatment. Unless you schedule a dental examination, you can’t be sure what is the best option.

6. Do you get put to sleep for a root canal treatment?

Here the answer is pretty straightforward and short. During the treatment, you’ll get only local anaesthesia to relieve the pain and discomfort, so no; you won’t be put to sleep during the procedure.

7. Is root canal safe during pregnancy?

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists mention that “conditions that require immediate treatment, such as extractions, root canals, and restoration of untreated caries, may be managed at any time during pregnancy”.

So, yes, it’s safe to have a root canal treatment during pregnancy, but extra counselling with an OBGYN would be ideal. Local anaesthetics and antibiotics can be safely used on a pregnant patient. However, don’t forget that the treatment shouldn’t be delayed because it could lead to more severe problems.

8. How long does a root canal treatment take?

According to the NHS, “the more roots a tooth has, the longer the treatment will take to complete”.

The time depends on the severity of the tooth’s condition and anatomy, but we can safely say that the whole procedure will last between 30 to 90 minutes due to the steps required for each patient and the infected tooth.

Also, remember that a root canal treatment usually requires two or three visits to the dentist or endodontist. The extra visit usually happens when a permanent filling or crown will cover the tooth, while the others are focused on pain relief and the procedure itself.

9. Does root canal treatment hurt?

Ιn short, RCT won’t hurt as much as you might think! But, like any other dental procedure, you might experience mild discomfort for a couple of days after the treatment.

Also, since local anaesthesia is used during the procedure, you won’t feel any pain. And remember that we use this treatment to relieve you from the pain you are already experiencing.

10. How long does a root canal take to heal?

Again here, the answer is not the same for everyone. Usually, it takes a few days, and with the help of medication, you won’t experience severe pain, and you’ll feel better really quickly.

In some cases, repeated appointments might be necessary, and the healing process will be expanded. In our clinic, we always inform our patients about what to expect and what they should do to make this period as smooth as possible.

11. How many times can a root canal be re-treated?

In rare cases, RCT could fail, but retreatment can be performed for most patients. There is not a specific number of times that someone can get RCT for a tooth, but generally, for most people, root canal treatments and retreatments are a better alternative than extraction.

12. Can you eat after a root canal treatment?

Modern procedures not only ensure better outcomes and results, but they give you the freedom to avoid taking many severe precautions. A general recommendation is to wait a few hours until you are no longer under the local anaesthetic influence, just to ensure that you won’t cause any injury.

Also, remember to avoid any hard food or too hot drinks and try to chew from the other side during the first couple of days.

13. Can you drive after a root canal treatment?

Since the procedure requires only a local anaesthetic injection, you can safely drive home or even return to work or school. Only if your dentist gives you other medications, you might not be able to drive by yourself. But again, this is something that your doctor will advise you in advance.

14. What are the signs of infection after a root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment has success rates up to 86–98%. However, even the most skilled endodontists might not be able to succeed each and every time. So you should be monitoring your condition, and if you recognise any of the following symptoms, you should call or visit your doctor.

When we refer to a failed treatment, this usually means that the tooth didn’t clean up thoroughly, so an additional root canal infection will be present. As a result, you might experience these early symptoms again, like pain around the treated tooth, swelling or a blister inside your mouth.

Please contact your dentist as soon as something doesn’t feel right, so early and less invasive treatment can start.

15. How to mentally prepare for a root canal treatment?

It’s normal to feel anxiety before any procedure, but that’s why dental professionals are for. To help you restore your health and ensure that you’re getting the treatment you deserve.

Try to think that you won’t feel any unpleasant symptoms after the RCT, and you’ll get back to your daily routines without worrying, feeling uncomfortable or being in pain.

Our tip for you is to get informed about the root canal treatment. So it’s a great start that you’re reading our article! Then, try to answer all your questions and choose a dentist you can trust to help you eliminate your stress.

16. Root canal treatment or extraction?

We could write an entire section of pros and cons for each procedure, but this is not the point. A short answer to this question is that your dental professional knows best. Everything depends on the tooth’s condition and what would be the best option for you.

With RCT, you save your tooth and preserve your natural look. Also, the entire procedure is less expensive, invasive, with less pain and a quicker healing process. 

On the other hand, you’ll get rid of any bacteria, infections, or follow-up appointments with tooth extraction.

However, keeping your natural teeth is always the preferred approach, but extraction should be the solution if keeping your tooth will cause more problems or jeopardise your dental health.

Let’s recap!

Many people consider root canal treatment as an invasive and scary procedure. We are constantly getting questions regarding the pain, the steps, the healing process and aftercare from our patients.

That’s why we created this article and answered the most common questions we are getting at Swedish Dental Clinic to help you learn more about root canal treatment and not feel uncertain and anxious anymore!