How Do Root Canals Work, Really?

Mouth Cerritos CA

If you have cracked your tooth, or if a cavity has become so deep that it has eaten through to the interior, then you might require a root canal. And there is a lot of stigma surrounding the procedure.

From movies and tv, we imagine them to be painful, excruciating experiences. And while oral surgery is always a serious endeavor, it may relieve some incredible tooth pain involved with pulp and root infection.

So today, your Cerritos, CA dentist is here to calm your nerves and explain root canals to you, and why they might be helpful (or necessary) for you.

Why Might I Need One?

There are a few different reasons as to why a patient might require a root canal surgery. But essentially, the cause of all these situations is the bacterial infection of the root of the tooth. The root is the fleshy part within the hard exterior, and it is connected to the rest of your circulatory system.

This infection is often caused by the progress of tooth decay within the mouth. Bacteria can develop in hard to reach areas, such as between the teeth. When these colonies build, they secrete highly acidic waste that can eat through your enamel.

By growing then within the tooth itself, it can cause serious pain. Beyond that, we want to remove the infection from its protected spot alongside your circulatory system. And as early as this is removed, the less natural material we will have to remove.

What Is The Process?

The main objective of a root canal is to perform what is called a pulpectomy. During this procedure, the dentist fully removes the pulp and root matter from within the tooth. This essentially renders that tooth to be dead. But unlike with extractions, your body still believes there to be a healthy tooth in place.

This helps with the preservation of your jawbone. With a loss to the jaw, the body reabsorbs biological material in order to best protect the rest of the body. And it is also great to be able to save the tooth as a functional part of your body.

Once the pulp has been removed, the connections to the jaw are sealed with a rubbery material named gutta-percha. Most likely, you will need a dental crown in order to reinforce the stability, and provide a great surface for daily use.

There is a mild recovery time afterward, but usually no longer than a week. You will want to start off with a soft diet, and introduce more difficult foods as you begin to feel more comfortable. This period can include tooth sensitivity. If any symptoms last longer than this, however, make sure to speak with a trained oral health professional.


Dr. Shawn Hofkes and the staff at Cerritos Dental Surgery are highly qualified to address complex issues, including those that require oral surgery to correct. To schedule an appointment or consultation with Dr. Hofkes, contact us today by calling 562-584-4082. We proudly welcome patients of all ages from Cerritos, CA, and all surrounding communities, such as Lakewood, Long Beach, Buena Park, and more.