4 Types Of Root Canal Treatments – And How Your Dentist Decides Which To Use

Posted on: 10 September 2015

Root canal treatments involve cleaning out the root canal of a tooth to remove damage to the pulp inside or to remove an infection and prevent recurrence. There are a few different types of root canals that are implemented according to the type, location, and severity of the problem. Each type is generally used as a way to save the tooth from potential extraction.

Here are the four types of root canal treatments – and how your family dentist decides which to use.

Traditional Root Canal Treatment

The most common type of root canal treatment is usually simply called a root canal procedure though it can also be called a primary root canal. This type of treatment is used to remove damaged or infected pulp in an otherwise intact root canal.

Your dentist will drill an entry hole into the top of your tooth. Special tools are then used to gently scrape out all of the pulp material so that the damage or infection can't continue to flourish. The canal is then rinsed with an antiseptic wash and filled with a solid material that essentially plugs the canal. An artificial tooth crown is then affixed to the top of the tooth to close off the access made to the canal.

A traditional root canal is typically sufficient treatment. But sometimes an infection can recur despite the procedure and a secondary root canal procedure is performed. If the infection is still causing problems, it might be time for your dentist to try another type of root canal treatment.


Infections recurring despite undergoing root canal treatment are usually located in the apex or far ends of the tooth's roots. Those apexes aren't possible to reach during a traditional root canal, which is usually fine because the infection is often cleared up with the pulp removal. But sometimes it is necessary to remove the apexes to fully stop the infection.

For an apicoectomy, your dentist will need to cut through both your gums and jawbone to access the apex or apexes. The apex is then cut off and the remaining root is sealed shut to prevent any more infection from entering through the jawbone. Your gums are then stitched closed and left to heal.


A pulpotomy is similar to a traditional root canal but is performed on a baby tooth instead of an adult tooth. The dentist will remove the uppermost portion of the pulp in the crown, rinse the canal, and then fill the tooth in with a material that can be absorbed back into the body when its time for the tooth to fall out.

Dentists use pulpotomies on baby teeth to keep those teeth from falling out overly early. Losing a baby tooth too early can cause the permanent tooth to emerge out of position, which causes bite issues.


A pulpectomy involves removing all of the pulp from the tooth, which includes both the root canal and the interior of the tooth roots. This is another procedure that's more often used in baby teeth in need of saving until the adult teeth are ready to emerge.

More information can be found by visiting a local office such as the West Lakes Family Dentistry.