Root Canal TreatmentHave you been told that you are at risk of or need a root canal treatment? If so, you are not alone. Each year, endodontic therapy treats and ultimately saves millions of teeth. But what exactly causes a root canal, and how can you prevent the need for this procedure? Read on to find out.

What is a root canal?

A root canal refers to the inner passages of the tooth located between the tooth root and the pulp, as well as the dental procedure required to extract infected material and relieve canal pain.

Despite the things you may have read online or heard from family and friends, a root canal is not designed to cause you immense pain. However, the goal of the procedure is to save a tooth that has been severely inhibited. At Spokane Dental, our root canal specialist may recommend this procedure to remove dead or dying tissue and bacteria from inside an infected tooth.

Your tooth's root canal also contains blood vessels and nerves that work to sense cold, heat, and other stimuli. A root canal procedure may involve the removal of nerves in an infected tooth for the treatment of tooth pain caused by infection or decay in the tooth pulp.

Modern technologies and techniques have helped root canal procedures evolve into relatively comfortable dental treatments that require no more than a one or two trips to our root canal dentists at Spokane Dental.

Root Canal Procedure

Dental root canal treatments are a straightforward procedure that relieves dental pain while preserving the natural teeth. During the root canal procedure at Spokane Dental, an endodontic who specializes in root canal treatment will carefully remove the pulp located inside the tooth, clean, shape, and disinfect the channel, and replace with a filling to seal the open space.

What causes a root canal?

It is a common misconception that poor oral hygiene is the root of all teeth problems. While this may be a trigger for a root canal procedure, poor oral health is only one type of cause of root canals.

The fact of the matter is, we inherit the strength of our teeth from our parents. Soft teeth are more susceptible to decay than hard teeth and require extra hygiene measures to prevent oral complications.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is the single primary cause of a root canal. As degeneration progresses into your tooth's pulp chamber, you will experience sensitivity when you eat or drink something cold or hot. However, this symptom doesn't automatically qualify you for a root canal treatment. In some cases, a cavity or removal of decay will take care of the problem.

In cases that decay has advanced too far, bacteria will enter the pulp and cause an infection, or an abscess in the bone. Because this damages the nerves slowly over time, there are not always symptoms present. To screen for the presence of an infection, our root canal specialist at Spokane Dental will typically take x-rays during your routine cleaning appointment.

When an abscess is left untreated, it can grow, eating away the bone in your jaw, causing swelling and pain. This may result in a full body systemic infection. The only remedy is tooth removal or root canal. This is why Dr. Kindseth a Dana Point dentist strongly recommends seeing a root canal dentist at least once ever six months.

Tooth Fracture

The second most common cause of root canals is tooth fracture caused by grinding and clenching your teeth, chewing ice, or eating tough foods. Under these circumstances, your teeth can develop craze lines or hairline type fractures that allow bacteria to enter the pulp chamber, inflaming nerves and infecting the tooth. The pain that this can cause is quite noticeable and in most cases unbearable. Biting down on something hard can further damage the fracture. If you have experienced a dental fracture, seek attention from our root canal specialist at Spokane Dental immediately.

However, it is important to note that each person experiences varying degrees of pain. Some patients that have uncovered abscess through X-rays that would severely affect the average person stated they did not feel anything at all. This one of the many reasons it's critical to keep up with your dental appointments.


The last cause of a root canal is trauma. Those that have experienced a blow to the mouth as a child can end up with a tooth infection as an adult. Falls, sports and work-related injuries, and car accidents that cause your teeth to snap together can also induce nerve damage that may not reveal itself right away.

Additionally, removing old metal filling and replacing them with composite fillings, as well as having the tooth drilled for a crown can cause trauma for nerves located inside the tooth. Inflamed nerves may settle down after a period, or they can be painful and require extraction and root canal therapy for relief.

How can I prevent root canal infections?

Taking good care of your teeth is the first step in lowering your risk of a root canal infection. This means practicing good oral hygiene and making regular root canal dentist appointments - at least every six months. Be sure to brush your teeth and floss at least twice a day with an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste. Avoid drinks and foods that are high in acid, starch, and sugar.

Although some trauma is unexpected and unavoidable, it's a good idea to avoid activities that could cause a severe blow to your teeth. At the first sign of chips and fractures, schedule an appointment with our professionals at Spokane Dental.

Contact the Family Dentistry of Spokane

There are a plethora of clinical reasons for needing a root canal treatment, but there is also a myriad of practical reasons why it's a wise choice to save the natural tooth. Endodontic therapy from our root canal dentists & dental experts at Spokane Dentistry can help you maintain your natural smile, limit the need for ongoing dental work, and allow you to keep the lifestyle you love. With the right care, most teeth that undergo a professional root canal treatment can last a lifetime. Looking for a root canal dentist? Call today to learn more at (509) 822 – 5614.