A man wearing a medical suit and performing surgery on a patient. Photo by Olga Guryanova on Unsplash.A root canal is very commonly performed, but those who haven’t had the operation may not know about its processes and progression. In this article, we’ll take a look at all the fundamentals you need to know about root canals.

If you are seeking a root canal expert or oral surgeon in the Baltimore area, be sure to give Federal Hill Smiles a call today!

Root Canal Overview

So, what exactly is a root canal? Inside each tooth in your mouth is a structure called pulp. The pulp is located in the center of the tooth and consists of cells called odontoblasts. The pulp plays an important role in a number of bodily processes, but most importantly it is responsible for the production of dentin, the substance from which your teeth are built. 

When pulp becomes infected, a root canal surgery may be necessary in order to remove the contaminated pulp from the tooth and prevent further degradation before the tooth becomes necrotic, or nonresponsive.

In order to determine whether a root canal is necessary, your dentist will perform an evaluation of the dental pulp and surrounding tissues.

Root Canal Evaluation and Diagnosis

To figure out whether a root canal treatment is the best option for saving your tooth, your dentist will begin by asking questions about your symptoms. Generally, there are some telltale signs that the pulp of a tooth is infected or inflamed. These include:

  • Strong sensitivity to cold or hot temperatures
  • Bumps or pimple-like growths on the gums
  • Swelling and tenderness of the gum tissue
  • Darkened coloration or apparent decay of the gums
  • Chips or cracks in the teeth

If your dentist or endodontist suspects that pulp problems are at play, they will proceed by taking an x-ray of the tooth and either recommending root canal treatment or, if the decay is sufficient, a full tooth extraction. 

The Root Canal Procedure

If the pulp of a tooth is deemed sufficiently inflamed and surgery is required, a root canal procedure will be carried out by your dentist or endodontist. Despite what you may have heard, a root canal is a virtually painless procedure thanks to modern numbing agents and anesthetics. It can usually be completed in one to two sessions, depending on the severity of the dental problem and your personal situation. 

Root canal treatment saves your tooth from infection and necrosis. Your dentist achieves this by using specialized tools to drill and remove the infected pulp from the affected area, then fills and seals the root canal with a crown. After the procedure, your tooth will heal and return to normal, complete functionality.

What to Expect After The Root Canal Operation

After the root canal operation, you should expect some sensitivity around the area that was operated on. If you experience discomfort or soreness, an over-the-counter pain reliever should be sufficient to ameliorate it. Your dentist will give you more specific instructions on how to manage recovery and symptoms after the surgery. 

The biggest challenge associated with a root canal is typically just getting adjusted to the new sensation of the tooth that received treatment. However, if you experience prolonged pressure or pain in the tooth that lasts for more than several days, be sure to call your dentist or endodontist.


In this article, we’ve taken a brief look at root canal treatment and how it works. If you ever need a root canal surgery, there is absolutely nothing to be worried about. As mentioned, these procedures are a routine occurrence in the dental industry and there are usually few to no complications from the surgery. 

For more information on root canal treatment, dental pulp, or general dentistry questions, please reach out to the medical experts at Federal Hill Smiles.