Toothaches are a vivid reminder that teeth aren’t just pieces of hard tissue floating around in the gums. They are intricately formed sensory organs with layers of dentin and enamel protecting a living pulp. Coursing through the tooth’s pulp is a vital bundle of nerves and blood vessels providing nutrients and sensation to each tooth. As long as the pulp stays healthy, you’re rarely aware of the systems at work.

Tooth pain can be especially alarming, but it’s meant to warn you that something’s not right. Pain tells us that the bundle of nerves and vessels inside your tooth is irritated, damaged, or under attack.

A deep cavity can give bacteria access to the inner nerve bundle. In some cases, a significant infection, called an abscess, may develop in your jaw without any symptoms at all. If our doctors determine that the nerve won’t recover or if an infection is present, then root canal therapy may be suggested.

Modern anesthetics provide powerful numbing for the gentle removal of the inflamed nerve inside the tooth. The nerve canal undergoes disinfection and careful shaping, and a sealer fills the internal space. A filling or crown over the tooth helps return the tooth to its original function.


Internet articles continue to circulate claiming adverse health effects from root canals, despite years of research proving otherwise. Many of these claims rest on false theories put forward decades ago without any scientific basis. In fact, one popular Facebook article sounding a false alarm shakily rests on a 100-year-old study tossed aside long ago.

The American Association of Endodontists stays abreast of all research and can support the safety of this vital service. In fact, new techniques and materials make root canal treatment more successful than ever.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Attractive young Caucasian woman talking to her dentist

A root canal is a dental procedure used to treat and save a tooth that is infected or severely decayed. It involves removing the damaged pulp inside the tooth, cleaning, disinfecting, and sealing the space.

You may need a root canal if the pulp inside your tooth becomes infected or inflamed due to deep decay, a cracked tooth, repeated dental procedures, or trauma.

Common signs include severe toothache, prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold, swollen or tender gums, and a pimple on the gum. However, only a dentist can accurately diagnose the need for a root canal.

Modern root canal procedures are typically not painful. Dentists use local anesthesia to numb the tooth and surrounding area. Patients may experience some discomfort after the procedure, which can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers.