root canal drill in 3d

Everything About Root Canals

Excerpt: A lot of patients are more scared of root canals than they should be. People also think they hurt more than they do. Dentists have been doing root canals for almost 200 years!

Table of Contents

Root Canal Trivia!

  • Root canals therapy is referred to technically as endodontics
  • Dentists have been performing root canals since the 1700s
  • Specialists are not required for most root canals

Patients are often more scared of root canals than they should be. People also think they hurt more than they do. Dentists have been doing root canals for almost 300 years! The first root canal was done in the 18th century, so dentists have had practice with them.

What is a root canal?

A root canal is the treatment of the pulp of the tooth that is inflamed, infected, or dead. The dental pulp is the inner soft part of the tooth, the pulp chamber is the hollow part of the tooth that houses the pulp.


(RCT) Root Canal Treatment, or endodontic treatment are the technical terms for a root canal. Endo is the Greek work for inside, and odont is Greek for tooth.

Brief history of root canals

The existence of tooth pulp was discovered as far back as 1728, the first actual root canal procedure was performed in 1766. The first specialized root canal tool was created in 1838, which was made from a watch spring. Endodontics didn’t become its own field of dentistry until 1944 when the American Endodontic society was created. 
pocket watch

What Does A Root Canal Procedure Look Like?

Patients are often under the impression that root canals hurt more than the actual procedure does. Dentists are aware that oral pain can be one of the most intense sensations you can feel, so they have taken significant precautions to minimize the pain as much as they can! Their tactics include local anesthetic to numb the pain, and in some cases the patient may be sedated in severe cases of dental anxiety.

dentist vs. endodontist – what’s the difference?

All endodontists are dentists, but all dentists are not endodontists. Endodontists have 2 years more training specifically in root canals, so they are more specialized to handle them if the operation has significant complications. However, all dentists have training in dealing with root canals as it is a standard procedure, so they can and often do complete the operation themselves.


If you’re unsure of your dentists experience with root canals you can always ask them about their experience with it. If you’re still unsure, you can find a new dentist your more comfortable with or go see a endodontist.

model of a mouth

What are the signs you need a root canal?

Root canals are meant to repair teeth with pulp damage, either inflamed or infected pulp will need therapy. Some of the most common causes of a root canal include:
  • Deep cavities
  • Problems from previous dental work
  • Chips
  • Cracks
  • Trauma
  • Faulty crowns

Most of these dental issues will manifest in some sort of pain, discomfort, or sensitivity to temperature. However, there may not be any indication of pain in your tooth, and you still may need a root canal!

If you’re looking for indications you may need a root canal here they are:

  • Pimples on your gums
  • Lingering sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages
  • Swollen gums
  • Darkening or decaying gums
  • Cracked tooth

Are Root Canal Procedures Risky?

Root canal therapy is generally very safe. A dental abscess may be at risk of occurring in the tooth if any infected material is left behind, or the antibiotics are not as effective as they should be. At Smiles Dental Group we take as many steps as we can to mitigate the risk, one of these steps is hiring dentists from Canadian accredited dental schools, this ensures an incredibly high level of competency among all our dentists. We want our clinics to be as stress/anxiety-free as possible!

If your particular scenario is considered too risky for a root canal, or a root canal is not a good solution, then tooth extraction is always a possibility. Generally, this is a last-ditch effort as dentists always try to keep as much of the original teeth and gums in place.

person having tooth extracted

Are Root Canals Expensive?

Root canals aren’t necessarily cheap, but if you have benefits they are not overly expensive. The 2021 Alberta Dental Fee guide, lists that a root canal should be charged at a cost of $691.15. Most dentists, as much as 97%, have costs that are at or above the guide, Smiles Dental Group always charges BELOW the guide. A single root canal is $662.15 at our clinics.
If your budget does not allow for root canal therapy, tooth extraction can be performed in its place. At Smiles Dental Group, a simple tooth extraction costs $134.33, this can be a more attractive option for patients without benefits. The Alberta Dental Fee guide lists that a simple extraction should cost $140.21, and most dentists will be over that figure.

If your tooth pulp has become infected you should deal with it immediately, as performing an extraction or root canal therapy, is considerably less difficult than dealing with an abscess.

Root canals therapy hurts about as much as your average filling, which isn’t much.

Root canals are generally done in one session and it will usually be completed in under an hour. Although some procedures may take up to 90 minutes.

Yes! It’s very common, there is nothing to be concerned or embarrassed about needing a root canal.

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