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  • Dr. Barry Yu



Root canal treatment, often simply called a root canal, is a procedure used to treat a tooth that has become infected or damaged. While the mere mention of a root canal can sometimes evoke fear, understanding the reasons why this treatment might be necessary can help alleviate anxiety and promote better dental health. Here are five common reasons why you might need root canal treatment:


1. Deep Decay

Even if a cavity is not causing pain, deep decay can still pose a significant risk to the tooth. Decay that reaches the pulp of the tooth can lead to infection, as the pulp contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue that can become inflamed and infected. In such cases, a root canal may be necessary to remove the infected pulp and save the tooth.

ROOT CANAL TREATMENT, trauma or injury

2. Trauma or Injury

Trauma or injury to a tooth, even without a visible crack or fracture, can have serious consequences. The force of the impact can sometimes cause damage to the tooth's nerve, leading to a condition where the nerve can't survive.

Even though there may be no obvious fracture, the nerve inside the tooth can die, which can eventually lead to infection, which lead to the need of root canal treatment.

Additionally, trauma can also directly cause a crack or fracture in the tooth, further increasing the risk of infection and the need for a root canal treatment to save the tooth.

In some cases of severe trauma, such as avulsion (complete displacement of the tooth from its socket) or subluxation (partial displacement of the tooth), the nerve can be severely damaged or die, requiring a root canal treatment even after the tooth is repositioned.

ROOT CANAL TREATMENT, heavily restored, repeated dental procedures

3. Repeated Dental Procedures

Teeth that have undergone multiple dental procedures, such as fillings or crowns, may eventually require a root canal. Repeated dental work can weaken the tooth's structure and make it more susceptible to infection.

ROOT CANAL TREATMENT, tooth fracture

4. Tooth Fracture

A fracture or crack in the tooth can extend into the pulp, allowing bacteria to enter and cause infection. In such cases, a root canal may be necessary to remove the damaged tissue and prevent further infection.

ROOT CANAL TREATMENT, severe toothache

5. Severe Toothache

A severe and persistent toothache, especially when accompanied by swelling or tenderness in the gums, may indicate an infection in the tooth's pulp. In such cases, a root canal may be needed to alleviate the pain and save the tooth.

Additional Information:

ROOT CANAL TREATMENT, go to the dentist, dental visit

Trauma Management:

If you experience trauma to your tooth, such as a fall or impact, it's important to seek dental care promptly. Your dentist can assess the damage and determine if a root canal or other treatment is necessary.

ROOT CANAL TREATMENT, pain resolution, pain relief

Pain Resolution:

If you experience tooth pain that suddenly stops after a few days to a week, it may indicate that the nerve inside the tooth has died. While the pain may temporarily subside, the infection can still be present and may require a root canal treatment to remove the infected tissue and prevent further complications.

ROOT CANAL TREATMENT, prompt treatment

Importance of Prompt Treatment:

Ignoring tooth pain that has subsided can be dangerous, as it may indicate a dead nerve that can develop into an infection. It's important to see your dentist promptly if you experience any tooth pain or discomfort, even if it seems to have resolved on its own.

Elective Endodontic Treatment:

In some cases, the nerve in the tooth may be in a reversible state, but the damage to the tooth structure could be so great that in order to restore the tooth properly, elective endodontic treatment is needed. This can help prevent future pain and complications.


The Root Canal Procedure

During a root canal procedure, the infected or damaged pulp is removed from the tooth, and the root canals are cleaned and sealed to prevent further infection. In some cases where there is not enough tooth structure remaining to support the tooth, a crown may be placed to protect and restore its function. A crown is a custom-made covering that fits over the tooth, resembling the outer layer of the tooth, strengthening it, and improving its appearance. Your dentist will discuss the need for a crown based on your specific situation.


To understand more about root canal treatment, CLICK HERE.

To understand more about crowns, CLICK HERE.

While the thought of a root canal may seem daunting, the procedure is a common and effective way to save a tooth that might otherwise be lost. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, such as severe toothache or swelling, it is important to see your dentist promptly. Early intervention can help prevent the need for more extensive treatment and preserve your natural smile.

CLICK HERE if you want to know more about how to handle dental emergencies



About Authors


Graduated with honors from the University of California, Davis (U.S.A.), major in biochemistry and molecular biology, Dr. Yu has further obtained his dental degree (Doctor of Dental Medicine) from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine (U.S.A.).  Dr. Yu is qualified to practice in the US, Singapore and Hong Kong, and has over 10 years of practicing experience in the US before starting both practices in Hong Kong and Singapore.


Dr. Chrissie Lam graduated from University of California, Berkeley (U.S.A.) with a bachelor degree in Nutritional Science before earning her doctorate degree in dentistry from University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry (U.S.A.). In her 10 years of practice she took care of her patients, both in U.S.A. and Singapore with her warm demeanor and excellent clinical skills. 

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