No one likes to live with pain. So, when it comes to dealing with an infected tooth, why does it seem like so many patients are scared of a root canal?

Truth is, root canals are relatively harmless procedures that can actually save you a LOT of pain in the future. This endodontic treatment involves removing the infected pulp (which is inside a tooth beneath the enamel), and then filling the tooth to restore it to its normal functions.

The pulp sounds important. Don’t I need it?

The pulp, which is a soft tissue containing nerves, blood vessels, and other connective tissue, is important to the tooth’s growth in a person’s early life. However, once the tooth is matured, it can survive without the pulp, continuing to be nourished by surrounding connected tissue.

How do I know that I need a root canal?

The reasons that patients need this endodontic procedure may vary, but ultimately it all boils down to the fact that the pulp itself is inflamed or infected.

Generally, reasons for this include tooth decay that’s deep and reaches below the enamel, a tooth that’s been worked on too often, a tooth that’s cracked or chipped – the list goes on. During your regular check-ups, your dentist will be able to communicate to you if they believe that you need a root canal.

What can I expect from this procedure?

The average root canal treatment does not take very long at all, and is fairly painless, thanks in part to modern advances in science and technology. The procedure can be broken down into 4 steps:

  1. An x-ray is taken to determine where the infected pulp is, locating it for the procedure.
  2. Local anesthesia is delivered to the affected tooth.
  3. An opening is created, and the infected pulp is then removed.
  4. The exposed roots are filled with gutta-percha material, and the tooth is sealed off!

Simple, right?

Is tooth extraction an option?

Completely removing an infected tooth is definitely an option, but it can also be costly.

If your natural tooth can be saved, it is generally suggested that it is. Maintenance on a natural tooth is much easier than on an implant.  Keeping your natural tooth enhances your smile, your confidence, and your bank account!

Schedule your next appointment with Dr. Stephen Coates to see if you’re in need of a root canal. Just click here to use our online scheduler or call our Long Beach dentistry at