Few dental procedures are the subject of as much misinformation as root canals. The procedure has existed for hundreds of years. However, advances in medical knowledge and endodontic technology have continually refined how root canals are performed, as well as how effective they are.

If you have an infected or damaged tooth, and your dentist has recommended you get a root canal, you should carefully read the most up-to-date information available. Here are five timely fast facts related to root canals to help you understand what’s involved in the process and how it works.

Dr. Allen treating a root canal patient.

5 Important Things To Know About Root Canals

1. Root canals treat tooth pulp that has become infected. The procedure is named for the canals in your tooth, which are filled with dental pulp containing nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. Dental pulp keeps your teeth alive.

2. Successful root canals can preserve natural teeth for a lifetime. Root canal treatment saves your teeth from extraction. The endodontist cleans the tooth canals and removes the infected dental pulp. Biocompatible material such as gutta-percha replaces infected pulp and the tooth receives a crown to protect it from further damage.

3. Endodontists specialize in performing root canals. Endodontics is a specialty field within dentistry. Endodontists have two to three extra years of training in methods for preserving natural teeth. Additionally, endodontists typically perform an average of 25 root canals a week, while a general dentist performs far fewer.

4. Root canals relieve pain rather than causing it. Modern root canals bear little resemblance to the procedures of even your parents’ or grandparents’ day. Patients overall report a significant decrease in pain after their root canal.

5. Root canal treatments have become far less invasive. Gentlewave technology, for example, is an exciting recent development in endodontics using fluid dynamics and special irrigating fluid to clean tooth canals more efficiently. This minimally invasive approach to root canal treatments results in even less postoperative pain than a traditional root canal.

Patients who come to our practice are often very surprised how effective modern root canals can be in stopping tooth pain – and greatly relieved,” says Dr. Jacqueline S. Allen, who practices with the Phoenix Endodontic Group. “We are happy to speak with anyone about needing a root canal before they come in, so they can feel relaxed and confident.