How Root Canals Save Teeth

How Root Canals Save Teeth

Let’s be honest; root canals have a bad reputation. A 2019 study by the American Association of Endodontists found that fear of root canals actually tops many other well-known anxieties. Around 41% of respondents said that they would rather swim with sharks than get a root canal, and the percentage of people with a fear of root canals (59%) topped public speaking (57%) and spiders (55%). 

But in the case of root canals, it’s all a big misunderstanding. Modern local anesthesia makes root canals no more painful than a filling, and the procedure can actually help improve pain, quality of life, and oral health. Root canals save teeth and will have you smiling for years to come. 

Do you have dental discomfort or pain that you think may be improved by a root canal treatment? If so, visit our team at Willow Glen Dental Care in San Jose, California. We’re proud to offer state-of-the-art comprehensive dental care for your whole family. In this blog, Danielle Wehle, DDS, and George Kuo, DDS, discuss root canal basics and how this procedure can save your teeth.

It starts with the pulp

At the center of every tooth is the pulp, a collection of nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels that helps your teeth grow and provide nourishment. The pulp is contained in the pulp chamber — a hollow area that extends down, through a canal, to the roots of the teeth. 

Pulp damage

When pulp is healthy, it doesn’t need any upkeep and just quietly keeps your tooth strong. Trouble starts when a pulp becomes irritated, inflamed, or infected. The resulting inflammation can be caused by tooth decay, repeated dental procedures, untreated cavities, a crack in the tooth, or an injury to the tooth. If the pulp is left untreated, it will eventually die and cause the tooth to decay and fall out. 


Most people won’t get to the point that their tooth pulp dies because they will seek help to stop the pain of a damaged pulp. Symptoms include:

In some cases, especially with damaged teeth, harmful bacteria can get into the pulp chamber. That can cause an abscess and swelling in the face, neck, or head — indicating the need for an emergency root canal. 

Saving the tooth

Your pulp is there to help your tooth grow. But once a tooth has reached full size, it can largely be nourished from the tissue surrounding it. 

During a root canal procedure, our team will give you a local anesthetic to numb the area around the tooth. We will then access the pulp chamber and remove the affected pulp. If the infection is severe, you may need to have two appointments so a medication can clear up the infection. 

Once the pulp is removed, and the tooth is ready, our team fills the pulp chamber with a durable compound and seals the tooth with a filling. The process saves your tooth, and your pain subsides almost immediately. 

To learn more about root canals, book an appointment online or over the phone with Willow Glen Dental Care today.

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