What Happens During a Root Canal?


Do you know what happens during a root canal?

The phrase “root canal” usually evokes a dreaded response. BUT, Dr. E encourages patients to realize that root canals have actually received a bad rap! In fact, millions of teeth are treated and saved each year as a result of root canals and this type of treatment typically carries a 95% success rate. The information below is designed to help you get to the “root” of what root canals are actually all about!

What is a root canal?

A root canal is a type of treatment a dentist uses to repair (and ideally save!) a tooth that has become infected due to bad decay. During this procedure, also referred to as endodontic treatment, the nerve and pulp are removed in order to clean and seal the inner part of the tooth. If left untreated, the tissue surrounding the tooth is at risk for infection, which can cause an abscessed tooth and perhaps even spread and lead to other serious health issues.

Breaking it down! A step-by-step explanation of root canals

So, what actually happens after your diagnosis? Your dentist, or endodentist, will go through the following steps during your root canal treatment:

Step 1: A local anesthesia will be administered via injection to numb the area near the tooth to give you comfort during the procedure.

Step 2: A protective dental dam will be placed over the and around the infected tooth being treated to ensure a sterile environment for the root canal.

Step 3: Out comes the drill! But, not to worry, a very small hole is drilled through the biting surface of the tooth so that your dentist can gain access to the pulp chamber.

Step 4: The dentist uses special tools to remove the infected and/or dead pulp from the tooth and the canals are then disinfected using antibacterial liquids.

Step 5: Out with the old and in with the new! Now that the bad stuff is out, the canals are ready to be shaped with sterile fillings and sealers. They are thoroughly washed and cleaned to ensure removal of any remaining decay or debris. The access hole is then sealed.

Step 6: Following the procedure, your dentist is likely to recommend taking aspirin or ibuprofen to easy any discomfort or soreness. He/she may also prescribe an antibiotic to head off any infection. Finally, post-root canal, a filling or crown will be placed on the tooth to fully restore it and prevent any future damage or infection.

Now that you know what happens during a root canal, your Ahwatukee dentist Dr. E encourages you to keep an open mind should this procedure be recommended for you in the future. It’s important to remember that most patients find that rather than causing pain, root canals actually ease pain and leave patients with something to smile about in the long term!