Root Canal: How to Save Infected Teeth

Having an infected tooth can be an ordeal. The pain is excruciating when your tooth starts to get infected. In order for one to understand the extent of the damage to your tooth, it is important that you know the structure of your tooth. A tooth has two parts – the crown and the root. The crown is the uppermost part, the part you see and the root is the one that keeps the tooth in position and reaches the bone in your jaw. The crown is coated with enamel and the material that forms most of the tooth is the dentine. It is the one that supports the enamel and is made up of soft material. On the other hand, the root is coated with a hard material known as cementum and the soft tissue found in the center of the tooth is called dental pulp.

When do you need a root canal treatment?

If your dental pulp is damaged by bacterial infection then your pulp will deteriorate and eventually die. It does not stop there, in fact, the spreading of bacteria will continue up to your root canal system. As the pulp dies, the symptom of pain in your tooth stops giving you the idea that your tooth has start to heal. Unfortunately, the infection would spread to your root canal system putting you at risk of other health conditions. Soon the symptoms would start again, only, this time, it involves swelling of the gum where the infected tooth is, the presence of pus in the infected tooth, swelling in the gums shows in swelling of your face, the tooth turns into dark color and of course the usual symptom of a toothache. Remember, your dental pulp cannot heal by itself so if you experience the symptoms above, it is best to see your dentist.  Here is a visual about how a root canal is done.

Can an infected tooth be saved?

This is the most common question that dental patients ask. Well, the answer is yes through a root canal treatment. If the dental pulp as seen in your dental x-ray is damaged then it can still be saved. The practice of root canal is not complicated at all and it is not painful as the toothache you already have. You will be given a local anesthetic so you should be quite comfortable and a lot less pain. It is like having your tooth filled. The process includes removing the bacteria from your root canal and filling it after to seal it. The inflamed gums around the tooth will heal on their own. Just take extra care with your tooth while it is in its healing stage.

Who is an Endodontist

Who is an Endodontist?

An Endodontist is a dentist who has specialized in maintaining teeth through endodontic therapy. Endodontic therapy is a procedure, involving the soft inner tissue of the teeth. All dentists essentially are trained in endodontic therapy, however, endodontists have achieved their special status by taking extra years (2 to 3) of advanced education in addition to the dental school.

Endodontic Therapy and Root Canal

Before we delve deeper into endodontic therapy, we have to understand what the root canal is. This is the narrow channels found within the root of a tooth. Now embedded in these canals are soft tissues called dental pulp which contain tiny nerves, commonly associated with toothache pains.

The pulp tissue can get injured quite often resulting in bacterial infection and what follows is a painful tooth that needs to be resolved by removal of the infected tissue. Root canal treatment or Endodontic therapy is directed at the root canals.

The common misconception going around is that the roots of teeth are always removed, well perhaps they did that in the older days but not anymore, it’s only the infected pulp that is removed leaving your teeth healthy and intact

Endodontic treatment is usually carried out in a series of steps that can be summarized as elimination of infection, removal of infected tissue and prevention of re-infection;

1. Administration of local Anesthetic

A sheet of latex also known as rubber dam is carefully placed around the rogue tooth isolating it. This ensures it is dry and clean during the treatment process

2. Once you are numb completely the infected pulp is removed carefully and the canals thoroughly disinfected with appropriate irrigants. After that, it is left to dry

3. After ensuring the canals are clean, disinfected and dry, the endodontist then applies a filling material at the canals.

In most cases, a single visit is all it takes for complete recovery, but to reduce the risk of possible re-infection, multiple visits can be arranged and also regular checkups can be undertaken.

The overall outcome, however, is dependent on the degree of infection and treatment difficulty.


In the case of retreatment, it could possibly be a stubborn tooth that has undergone the endodontic treatment and has failed to heal or the pain has refused to subside. Although it is a rare case, since almost 95% of this treatment is usually successful, the tooth can be managed by a second endodontic treatment until it heals completely.