location icon 4923 Oakton St., Skokie, IL

location icon 4923 Oakton St., Skokie, IL

What Is a Root Canal?

what is a root canal

Root canal therapy is performed when the blood vessels and nerves (known as the pulp) that provide nourishment to the tooth becomes inflamed or infected.

The pulp inside your tooth can become inflamed or infected from:

  • a deep cavity or tooth decay
  • repeated dental procedures that disturb this nerve tissue
  • a cracked or fractured tooth
  • injury to a tooth, even if there are no visible signs of cracks or fractures
  • an injury of this nature usually causes tooth discoloration over time

Dead or damaged tooth pulp causes blood flow changes and cellular activity to move towards the infected area, which ultimately causes pain. Most patients in need of a root canal experience tooth pain when biting down, chewing, and/or ingesting hot or cold foods and drinks. Patients can also experience swelling or an abscess may form inside the tooth and/or in the bone around the end of the root of the tooth.

Root canal therapy is a treatment that can save teeth. A dental infection can put you at risk of losing your tooth completely because bacteria can damage the supporting jaw bone around a tooth if left untreated.

Root canal treatment (endodontic therapy) can be performed on both a natural tooth and a tooth with a dental crown.

What Is the Root Canal Therapy Procedure?

The goal of a root canal procedure is to repair and save a tooth that would otherwise be lost (removed).

A root canal therapy treatment usually takes one to two appointments to complete. There is little to no pain because your dentist will use local anesthesia so you don’t feel the procedure.


root canal

During a root canal procedure, your dentist will start by using a local anesthetic to numb the tooth and the area around it. Next, a small opening is created through the tooth enamel to access the pulp chamber. The infected pulp is removed through a series of steps that clean and shape the nerve canal(s). While this is occurring a disinfectant solution is irrigated into the canal space to ensure all infected nerve and connective tissue is removed.


root canal

Once the canals have been properly prepared, the space is sealed with a root canal filling material called gutta percha. A fun fact about gutta percha – it is the same material that’s inside the center of a league baseball. The small opening (called an access hole) that was made through the tooth enamel is filled with a temporary filling.


root canal

What Happens

After a Root Canal Treatment?

Patients will likely need a follow-up visit after root canal therapy is completed.

Your dentist will need to remove the temporary filling placed in the tooth and replace it with a permanent filling or dental crown. Depending on the degree of prior tooth damage, either a simple filling or dental crown can be placed. Sometimes a fiber or metal post may be placed into the canal space to help make sure the restorative material remains in place. A permanent dental restoration is imperative to protect your tooth from possible damage and fracture.

Endodontic treatment can restore function and turn an infected tooth into a healthy tooth.

How Long Will

A Root Canal Treated Tooth Last?

With proper care, root canals can last a lifetime. Maintaining proper oral health is key to the long term success of root canal treated teeth. It is important to brush and floss everyday and to see your dentist regularly.

how long will a root canal treated tooth last

Ready to Learn More?

If you suspect you need root canal treatment, contact our Skokie, IL dental practice and schedule an appointment today.

dr Samantha Sodini