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7 Common Questions People Ask About Root Canals

Feeling curious about root canals? You aren't alone. 

We are here to provide you with answers to seven of the most commonly asked questions so that you feel better informed and more at ease when it comes time for your visit to the dentist's chair. 

Root canals may seem intimidating, but they are actually a very routine and minor dental procedure - so let us help take some of the fear out of it!

In this article, we will be addressing some of the common questions, such as:

  1. What is a root canal?
  2. Why is a root canal needed?
  3. Are root canal procedures painful?
  4. What is the recovery time?
  5. What’s the difference between cavities, root canals, and extractions?
  6. Will a root canal fix abscesses?
  7. What is the cost of a root canal?

1. What Is a Root Canal?

A root canal is a common procedure that helps a person save a tooth that has become infected or damaged (1).

Dentists perform root canals to remove the infection located in the tooth’s pulp

The pulp is the soft tissue inside your tooth that contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue (2). Additionally, it is what allows you to feel hot and cold sensations, so it’s important that it stays healthy (2). 

During a root canal, the interior of your tooth is cleaned and then sealed to prevent further infection. 

2. Why Is a Root Canal Needed?

A root canal is needed when a tooth has become infected. If you have had gum disease or decay in a tooth, you may have noticed some discomfort or sensitivity to hot and cold foods.

If left untreated, this infection could spread to the surrounding tissue and cause permanent damage that could result in your having to have your tooth extracted. 

A root canal can save your natural teeth from being removed or replaced with an artificial one. It will remove all of the infected material from the inside of the tooth's root canals (3).

3. Are Root Canal Procedures Painful?

With modern technology, root canals are much more comfortable and have shorter recovery times than they did just a few years ago. 

In fact, many describe them as a nearly painless procedure. 

According to a study from the International Endodontic Journal, which included 168 root canals, the average reported pain level was just above 1 on a scale of 1 to 10. Incredibly, 68% of patients experienced zero pain at all!

Overall, if you have a reliable dentist who follows best practices, you should not experience much pain during your root canal.

4. What Is the Recovery Time?

Thanks to today's modern techniques and technology, root canal therapy can be nearly painless and the recovery time is generally relatively short.

Most patients can return to their normal activities within one day. 

After the procedure, the tooth and surrounding area may feel sensitive for a few days. Over-the-counter pain relievers may be prescribed for any discomfort after your procedure (1).

5. Cavities, Root Canals, Extractions, and Abscesses - What’s the Difference?


A cavity is a hole or decay in the hard surfaces of your teeth, caused by acid produced from bacteria and plaque build up. 

Cavities can cause pain and other issues if not treated. Left untreated, cavities can worsen and lead to a tooth abscess.

Root Canal

The main difference between a root canal and a cavity is the depth of decay. 

A root canal is necessary when the decay has reached the inner pulp of the tooth, while a cavity usually occurs on the outer surface. 

Root canals are more involved procedures that require treatment from a dentist or endodontist, while cavities can often be filled with a simple filling (4).

Tooth Abscess

The main difference between a root canal and a tooth abscess is the cause of the infection. 

A root canal occurs as a result of decay that has reached the inner pulp of the tooth, while an abscess is caused by bacteria entering into the soft tissue around the tooth. 

Tooth abscesses can be the result of an untreated cavity, a chip or crack in a tooth, or gum disease. Other causes may include poor dental hygiene and trauma to the mouth from an accident or injury (5).

6. Will a Root Canal Fix Abscesses?

In most cases, root canal treatment can help to treat an abscess. 

The procedure involves cleaning out the infected area of the tooth and replacing it with a filling material. This prevents further spread of infection and helps to restore the tooth's strength and health (5, 6) .

7. What Is the Cost of a Root Canal?

The cost of a root canal varies according to the location and severity of your tooth problem. The average cost is $1,000 to $2,500, but it can be as high as $4,000 or more for complicated procedures (7). 

Some patients are surprised to learn that their insurance may cover all or part of this procedure.

Insurance providers typically reimburse root canal treatment at 100% if you have an existing dental plan which covers preventive care and restorative services. 

If you don’t have dental insurance, consider getting coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplace before receiving treatment so that you won’t be responsible for any out-of-pocket costs associated with your procedure. (7).

If you would like some additional information on what we do here at Greentree Dental Group, feel free to call us at 614 - 881 - 4671. We would love to meet with you so we can answer all your questions about our services and discuss how we might help resolve any problems related to tooth pain. Contact us today.


1. University of Pennsylvania Dental Medicine: What is a Root Canal?

2. What are the Three Stages of Root Canal Treatment? 

3. Westerville Dental: 11 Tips to Prepare for a Root Canal

4. Totally Dental: How Do I Know If I Need a Root Canal or Tooth Filling?

5. Medicine Net: Abscessed Tooth

6. Colgate: Gutta Percha: What Is It?

7. Forbes Health: What is a Root Canal?

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