What is a Root Canal Procedure?

A root canal treatment is a common dental procedure designed to save a diseased or damaged tooth and alleviate pain. Root canals are recommended when a patient has a tooth that is infected or has a dying root. In the center of the tooth is a fiber-like tissue called the pulp. The pulp can become infected as a result of a serious injury, a bad cavity, or an infection in the mouth. If this inflection is left untreated it may become worse and cause infection to spread throughout the mouth. The goal of the root canal is to treat the infection in order to retain the natural tooth. Here is a bit more information about the root canal procedure.

The Root Canal Procedure

During the root canal procedure, the dentist will remove any part of the pulp in the center of the tooth that is dying or infected and then fill the tooth. Thanks to advances in dental technology, the root canal procedure has come a long way. The treatment only requires one or two dental visits and a minimal amount of pain and swelling. Below is more information on the steps of the root canal procedure.

The Step by Step of a Root Canal

The root canal process usually involves a few steps. Here are the steps:

  • The dentist administers a localized anesthetic to help numb the area in the mouth where they will be working. Once the area is numb, a rubber dam is inserted to help isolate the area and keep it clean and dry while they work.
  • Next, the dentist will drill a small opening in the back or top of the tooth to access the inside. Through this opening they can clean out the damaged and diseased pulp from inside the tooth with a small file. How much cleaning is needed depends on how severe the infection is inside the tooth. In addition to removing the pulp, the dentist will clean the inside of the tooth, often using water to wash away debris.
  • Once the inside of the tooth is cleaned, the dentist will fill it with a temporary or a permanent filling. The dentist will decide on what filling is best based on how long the cleaning step has taken and how much diseased pulp was removed. Once the filling is in place the dentist will close up the tooth.
  • The final step is making sure the treated tooth matches the other teeth. Sometimes this final step involves adding a permanent crown. This final step may occur a few weeks after the root canal procedure. How much work is needed during the final step depends on the condition of the tooth and how stable and healthy it is.

Root Canal Recovery

After a root canal, some minor pain and swelling should be expected. Your dentist may prescribe some medication to help with this discomfort. The most important part of the recovery is making sure to continue to take care of your teeth and gums and to visit your dentist routinely for check-ups.

What is a Root Canal?