What Is a Root Canal?

A root canal is a restorative dentistry procedure for removing infected and inflamed pulp from the pulp cavity. The pulp cavity is at the core of the teeth and houses blood vessels and nerves.

Root canals are necessary when bacterial infections spread from the tooth’s core and begin to irritate the nerves and connective tissues inside the pulp cavity. By visiting your Northampton dentist for a root canal procedure, you can have the infected pulp removed, eliminating the pain and stopping the bacterial infection.

Northampton root canal

Did you know…

Root canals can be performed on primary (baby) teeth

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What to Expect During Your Root Canal Appointment

Examination and Local Anesthesia

The first step involves examining your teeth to determine your candidacy for a root canal. This examination typically involves a visual exam and X-rays. If you get the go-ahead from your dentist, they’ll inject a local anesthetic (usually lidocaine) into the affected area. This injection numbs the affected region for a painless procedure.

Access Hole and Removal of Pulp Chamber

Once the region is completely numb, our Northampton dentist will use a dental drill to drill an access hole on the top surface of the affected tooth, giving them access to the pulp cavity. Once inside, they’ll use files to remove the infected and damaged pulp from the pulp cavity.

Irrigating the Pulp Cavity and Filling

The dentist will use an anti-microbial solution to irrigate inside the pulp cavity and the canals. Doing so disinfects these areas and removes any particles and debris. The dentist will then fill the access holes with a putty-like material called gutta-percha.

Tooth Restoration and Follow-up Care

Some dentists may recommend dental crowns on the affected tooth to enhance protection against arterial infection and improve its structural integrity. Once installed, the dentist will furnish you with instructions on caring for your teeth to improve the effectiveness of your treatment.

Types of Root Canals

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Anterior Root Canal

An anterior root canal is a root canal conducted via the lingual side of the teeth. The lingual side is the side of the teeth that touches the tip and front sides of the tongue. This root canal is thus conducted on the front teeth (incisors and canines).

Posterior Root Canal

Unlike anterior root canals, posterior root canals are done on the posterior teeth (molars and premolars. These teeth are hard to access, and the process is more complicated than anterior root canals.


Pulpotomies are root canals done on primary (milk teeth) for children infected with dental decay. Dentists recommend them to avoid premature milk teeth extractions.

Did you know…

Root canal treatment can prevent the need for tooth extraction.


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Have Questions About Root Canal? Find Answers Here.

Why Would You Need a Root Canal?

You may need a root canal if widespread dental decay extends into the pulp cavity. A root canal may also be necessary if physical trauma to the tooth exposes the pulp cavity to bacterial infections.

How Many Appointments Does a Root Canal Take?

The number of appointments necessary for a root canal varies depending on the severity of the dental decay and physical trauma. However, most root canals are done in two sittings, while less severe cases of dental decay only need a single sitting.

Does a Root Canal Treatment Hurt?

No, root canal treatments don’t hurt because dentists administer local anesthetic to eliminate pain during the procedure. That said, you might have to take OTC painkillers to ease pain and discomfort after treatment.

Do I Always Need a Crown After a Root Canal?

No, dental crowns aren’t always necessary after a root canal but are recommended. Crowns help strengthen the decayed tooth, restoring its structural integrity for easier biting and chewing.

Did you know…

Root canal treatment can relieve chronic pain in other areas of the body.

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