Root Canals 101

Root canals are notorious for instilling dread in even the least squeamish among us. But what is a root canal, really? Many people are anxious about dental procedures, but root canals are the most commonly-feared. Dr. Jacob McLauchlin and the team at MAC Dental wants to alleviate that fear and understand that root canals are nothing to fear.

When the sensitive tissues inside your teeth, called pulp, become infected, you might need a root canal. Pulp gets infected when you have deep cavities that were left untreated, or even because of a chip or crack in the surface of the tooth. This infection can spread down into the root canals of your teeth into the gums, forming a painful abscess. The treatment for this is often a root canal.

How Do I Know if I Need a Root Canal?

If your teeth are very sensitive to temperature or you experience discomfort while chewing, or if the gums are inflamed and sensitive in one specific area, let your dentist know. He or she will check the area during exams to determine the most effective and conservative treatment.

Root canal procedures aren’t always the recommended treatment for infected pulp. Some dentists may refer you to an endodontist, a specialist with expertise in treating the insides of the teeth. In other cases, a root canal procedure is the recommended treatment, but Dr. McLauchlin will consult with you individually to determine the most conservative, effective treatment for you.

The Root Canal Procedure

If a root canal is the recommended treatment, your dentist will make sure to numb the area. Then, they will drill down into the crown of the infected tooth and remove the infected pulp from inside the tooth and root canals beneath the tooth. Adults no longer need the pulp because the tooth will be nourished by the surrounding tissues.

After the infected pulp is cleared, a special material is placed inside the space in the tooth to temporarily fill it until the crown is created. In some cases, where tooth decay has severely affected the root of the tooth, a tiny metal rod is inserted to hold the tooth in place.

To restore the tooth, a crown is created and placed over the affected tooth. This crown will be created to match the natural hue of your teeth and will seal the tooth to keep bacteria out. Within a few days, the swelling will go down and you’ll be able to use your tooth to chew again.

Is It Painful?

Part of the reason many people are afraid of root canals is because they’ve heard the procedure is painful or prone to complications. Luckily, with modern dental technology, most root canal procedures are no more uncomfortable than having a filling placed! Dr. McLauchlin and his team have years of experience performing this procedure.

Of course, prevention is easier than cure, so make sure you’re brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day to avoid your risk of ever needing a root canal. Even the best of us eventually need help, so if you do experience symptoms, know that the big bad root canal isn’t so scary after all! To schedule with Dr. McLauchlin, call 888.488.3049 or request an appointment online today.


413 N. McCroskey St.
Nixa, MO 65714



Monday: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Tuesday: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Wednesday: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Thursday: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Friday: 8:00 AM - 1:30 PM
Saturday & Sunday: Closed