Root Canal Treatment: Everything You Need to Know

Teeth and molars consist of a crown and one or more roots. The crown is the part you see. The roots are anchored under your gums in the jaw. The root canal runs in the root. It contains nerve fibers and small blood vessels. If the tissue (also called pulp) is or has been inflamed, the dentist will perform a root canal treatment.

When is a root canal treatment necessary?

Unfortunately, it is not always immediately apparent whether a root canal treatment is necessary. Sometimes people have severe pain in their molars or teeth. However, it may also be the case that there are no noticeable signs and symptoms. In the following cases, I recommend that you contact your dental practice directly:

  • Teeth and molars that are extra sensitive to cold and hot
  • A throbbing pain in your teeth or molars

Dental tissue that is inflamed no longer heals by itself and must therefore be removed by a dentist / endodontologist. If you do not have a root canal treatment, the inflammation will spread further to the root tips and the bone in your teeth. Your teeth may then have to be pulled, which unfortunately results in the loss of natural teeth.

How do you notice a root canal infection?

It often starts with sensitive teeth, for example when you drink cold or hot drinks or eat sweets. You may also experience chewing. Or even feel a constant throbbing pain. It can be very intense. Incidentally, it is a misunderstanding that a root canal infection always causes pain. If the nerve in the root has already died, you will not feel it.

How does a dentist make the diagnosis?

Often, but not always, you can see inflammation on an X-ray. In addition, the dentist conducts an examination in the mouth, for example by looking for visible damage.

What about the pain?

The nerve pain beforehand can be almost unbearable. But the treatment itself is painless thanks to the good anesthetics. If the nerve has already died, an anesthetic is sometimes not even necessary. Due to the intensive cleaning, the tooth or molar can become temporarily irritated. As a result, you can suffer from after pain for a few days. In general, this pain can be treated well with regular painkillers, such as paracetamol. If the pain lasts longer, contact your dentist.

Root canal treatment steps

root canal treatment steps

A root canal treatment consists of a number of steps, which are divided over several visits to the dentist, depending on the situation. These steps are:

  • The dentist starts by taking an X-ray of the root canals so that the dentist can see where the inflammation is.
  • The inflamed area and surrounding area will be numbed by the dentist.
  • The dentist will open your tooth or molar at the top with a drill.
  • The inflamed and dead tissue is removed. The dentist will clean your tooth or molar with a disinfectant liquid.
  • The space is filled with a normal filling. In the case of a severely weakened tooth, the dentist can also choose to place a crown instead of a normal filling.


Your tooth or molar often remains sensitive for a few days to two weeks after the treatment. I advise you to use paracetamol against this pain. The after pain arises because the dentist / endodontologist has had to work deep into the living tissue. If you develop a swollen cheek or if the pain persists, you should contact your dental practice immediately.


In a number of exceptional cases it happens that the inflammation does not heal completely after a root canal treatment or that the complaints return. In most situations you can keep your tooth or molar with a new root canal treatment (retreatment).

Internal teeth whitening

In some cases, there is a discolored tooth after a root canal treatment or after an accident. An effective way to whiten the tooth again is internal teeth whitening. The tooth is then opened at the back and bleach is added to the tooth. Then the tooth is closed with filling, so that the bleach can do its job properly.

The duration of a root canal treatment varies between half an hour and two hours. This depends on the number of root canals that are treated: not every tooth or molar in your teeth has the same number of canals. Ordinary teeth often have one channel in the root and molars often have several.

The anesthetic that you receive with a root canal treatment makes the treatment virtually painless. There is a chance that you will experience some pain after the treatment.

After treatment of the root canals you may experience after pain. This can last for several days. You can take a pain reliever. An antibiotic is usually not necessary.

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