Calcified Canals and Root Canal Treatment

Calcified Canals and Root Canal Treatment

A root canal treatment with calcified canals is a special class of root canal work performed by Dr. Hawryluk Jr. at St. Lawrence Dentistry. A canal in a tooth is the space in the middle of a tooth root. This space normally contains pulp tissue which is mainly nerve and vascular tissue. A canal in a tooth is classed as calcified when the canal space shrinks. This can pose a challenge if a tooth needs a root canal because it can be difficult to get even the smallest of tools down them. This is due to calcium being deposited into the canals as the name suggests. The incidence of calcified canals is highly correlated with age. Overall the probability that a person will need a root canal is thankfully decreasing due to constant improvement in dental health in our society. However, the calcified class of root canal treatment is expected to increase due to demographic trends. Our society is aging, people are living longer, and people are more motivated to keep their teeth. Figure 1 shows an x-ray of teeth with no calcifications. Notice you can see a line in the center of the roots. This is the pulp space. Figure 2 shows a tooth which has been calcified. The lines in the center part of the tooth (pulp space) are less visible. You will also notice the bone at the end of the tooth in figure 2 looks lucent. This is indicative of abscess tissue and sometimes indicates the need for root canal treatment.

In root canal treatment the inner pulp space of the tooth is cleaned out, sterilized, and filled with rubber.

To learn more about the reasons why a root canal may be needed and the steps that are involved please visit us here:

Microscope-Assisted Root Canals – What to Expect

In addition to root canal spaces calcifying with age, it is also highly correlated with longstanding tooth decay. In many cases if a person has a large decay the body will slowly shrink the size of the pulp in the canals in an effort to protect the pulp tissue from the decay. However, this shrinking also means the tooth has less access to blood supply (the pulp contains blood). Less blood means less immune cells in the tooth which can ultimately lead to increase chance of infection necessitating the need for root canal treatment.

Finally trauma from sports injuries often causes a tooth to calcify. There is a high incidence of trauma to front teeth especially from sports like hockey. When a tooth suffers a blow, it can disrupt the blood supply and in many cases the tooth will go dark. In an effort to prevent bacteria buildup in such a tooth, the body’s response is often to shrink the pulp space in the tooth by calcification. It is as if the body was trying to do a ‘natural’ root canal treatment on its own. However, in many cases the body cannot shrink (calcify) the space small enough to completely seal the tooth. This means there that a warm moist space is present in the tooth with no blood and immune cells to clean the tooth. Whenever this is the case bacteria can surface and necessitate the need for root canal treatment on a calcified tooth.

Cleaning out a calcified root canal space takes time and patience and it is a much more skill dependent procedure compared to an average root canal procedure. It is much easier for complications such as a separated root canal instrument or a block in the canal to arise. Dr. Hawryluk takes a very methodical approach and slowly will negotiate down the root canal system and flush out the debris contained within. There are several nuances with the calcified system. One is the canal can opening can be hard to find and the clinician will have to look for slight shades of grey in the tissue which can signify a potential canal opening is nearby. To overcome this, Dr Hawryluk uses the Global Dental Microscope to locate canals even in when they are more elusive at first glance. Small ultrasonic instruments can be use to gently remove the calcium deposits in the canal openings. In addition, irrigating the canals with sodium hypochlorite and EDTA will help dissolve any calcifications and can really help in these situations. Dr. Hawryluk will assess your individual situation and will plan your treatment accordingly.


If you have a calcified tooth needing root canal treatment St. Lawrence Dentistry will inform you in advance and let you know how long the treatment may take. In general, teeth with single roots can take 1 hour and molar teeth about an hour and a half. Since this situation takes longer to treat Dr. Hawryluk often will offer very mild sedation with Ativan tablets for your comfort. In general patients who have Ativan for their treatment feel very relaxed and are less focused on how long there treatment may take. You cannot drive after taking Ativan so please arrange someone to drive you home if you are considering Ativan for your treatment.

Root canal treatment should be a comfortable experience, even when the canals are calcified. If you live in the Mississauga area and are in need of a dentist please call us.

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