Root Canal Treatments: When You Might Need Them And Why

It’s a term that can strike fear into the heart of almost any dental patient, “Root Canal.” To most, the root canal is the poster child for a painful and excruciating visit to the dentist, but this idea represents a much older age of dental technology and experience. Modern endodontic procedures (Endo = “Inside” dontic = “Tooth” in Greek) aren’t the excruciating experiences of yesteryear but are just as free from discomfort as any other dental surgery.


How Would I Know If I Need An Endodontic Procedure?

Endodontic procedures become necessary when you when advanced decay, chips or cracks in the tooth, or repeated work on a tooth has led to damage to the pulp. This damage can manifest as inflammation or infection and can occur even when there are no visible chips or cracks in the teeth, and if these conditions go untreated an abscess and pain can result.

During a root canal, your endodontic specialist will remove the pulp inside the affected tooth, and carefully creates a place inside the root canal that will be filled and sealed. Sometime later you’ll return to have restoration work done, typically by putting a crown on the tooth that will make it fully functional. After a successful root canal, your tooth will return to functioning like any other tooth.


What Takes Place During An Endodontic Procedure?

Typically the specifics of your root canal will be discussed during a consultation that takes place prior to the day of the procedure. Every root canal follows essentially the same steps, which are outlined below.


  • Examination: Prior to performing the procedure imaging will be done, typically via x-ray, and a local anesthetic will be administered. Once this has taken effect a dental dam, a protective sheet used to isolate the tooth during the procedure.
  • Preparing The Tooth: The crown of the tooth will be opened and cleaned using a set of specialized instruments. The space is then shaped in preparation for the filling.
  • Filling the Tooth: The interior of the tooth is then filled using a biocompatible material, typically gutta-percha. This rubber-like material is set in place using an adhesive cement, and the whole thing sealed with a temporary filling.
  • Return Visit: Once it is clear that the root canal has been successful, you’ll return to have a permanent crown placed, returning your tooth to its normal function.


In some rare cases, a post may be placed inside the tooth, typically if the tooth lacks the necessary structure to support the restoration on its own.

Will My Tooth Require Any Further Treatment Following The Permanent Restoration?

Typically speaking a successful root canal won’t need any further procedures, but there are some circumstances when further treatment may be necessary. A broken filling, extensive decay, new injury to the tooth will result in needing additional care.

If you’re concerned that you may be in need of endodontic treatment, contact our facility immediately at (202) 847-3288, or visit our offices at 2021 K Street NW, Suite 522 in Washington, DC. As a member of the District of Columbia Dental Society, Doctor Kaveh Zand has been serving the DC area as an endodontic specialist registered with the AAES (American Association of Endodontic Specialists).