A Step-by-Step Guide to the Root Canal Procedure


09 September 2021

A Step-by-Step Guide to the Root Canal Procedure

In the United States, 15 million root canals get performed every year. 

It's no secret that many people don't enjoy going to the dentist, but they enjoy getting root canals even less. If you're scheduled to get a root canal and want to know what to expect, you came to the right place.

Read on to learn what to expect from a root canal procedure.


What Is a Root Canal?

If your tooth is severely damaged or dying, your dentist will recommend you get a root canal. A root canal is the last resort when the tooth is so decayed the dentist has no choice but to take out the nerve. 

The official name of a root canal is an endodontic treatment. While some teeth only have one canal, others have more than one, making the root more complex. 


When Do You Need a Root Canal?

The last thing you want to go through is a root canal process. However, if you experience these symptoms, chances are you might need a root canal. 

A dental abscess is one of the main reasons why dentists will recommend a root canal. The abscess creates a cyst and damages the area causing inflammation to the bone and gums.

Tooth decay is another reason why you might need a root canal. One of the reasons for severe tooth decay happens when you ignore cavities. 

Although some cavities start small, not getting them filled can cause the bacteria to expand and reach the nerve. 


How does a Root Canal Process Work?

If your dentist has recommended you have a root canal, you might be wondering how the process works. Many people want to know the step-by-step procedure to go with peace of mind. These are the basic steps of root canal treatment.


1. Local Anesthetic

A root canal is a procedure your dentist can perform while you're under local anesthesia. 

The first step will be to add a topical gel that will numb your gums. Once your gums are numb, the dentist will proceed to inject the anesthetic into your nerves to numb the specific area of your mouth. 

After the area of the tooth in question is fully numb, the dentist will proceed with the procedure. 


2. Dental Dam

Before your dentist can start to work on the tooth, they will have to place a dental dam to protect the rest of your teeth. 

The dental dam is made of a thin, stretchy material sheet that protects your mouth from anything going into it. 

Some people might feel quite uncomfortable with the mesh and prefer to be put under sedation. 


3. Opening the Tooth

Once the dentist has numbed and prepped your mouth, it's time for them to open up your tooth. The dentist will take a tool that will allow them to drill into your tooth to make an opening that will reach the canal. 

Because you will be numbed, you will not feel any pain. The only things most patients feel are the vibrations and a bit of pressure. 

If you think the noise of the drill might be too much for you, some people bring headphones so that they can block the noise. 


4. Remove the Nerve Tissue

The dentist will proceed to remove the pulp and nerve tissue once they reach the canal. Using a special tool, they will remove the nerve tissues by lifting and taking them out of the tooth's chamber. 

You will be left with a hollow space in your root once the pulp has been removed. 


5. Disinfect the Canal

Before the dentist can seal the canal, they will add a disinfecting solution into the hollow area to kill any bacteria that can cause an infection or abscess. 

This process aims for the canal to be sterile and disinfected before it can be sealed off. Without this process, the area will be subjected to infection, and you might have to go back to the dentist's office. 

Once the area has been disinfected with the sterile solution, they might place the medicated solution in the area. 


6. File and Smooth

The next step will be to file and smooth the inside of the tooth canal to ensure any debris and remaining nerves have been removed. To ensure the effectiveness and accuracy of the process, dentists will use a rotary file. 

Although some dentists might perform the filing by hand, most prefer to use a rotary file. 


7. Fill In the Canal

Once the area has been filled, sanitized, and clean, the dentist will fill in the canal. The preferred material by dentists is a gutta-percha material that can fill the entire canal so that it can be sealed off. 

The dentist will use special tools to get the material deep in the canal to ensure the canal is properly sealed and there are no gaps. 

Before a crown can be placed, the dentist will use x-rays to ensure the entire area has been covered. 


8. Place the Crown

After the tooth canal has been filled with gutta-perch material, the dentist is ready to place the crown over your tooth. 

The crown will protect the canal from any debris and other harmful bacteria to get on the inside of the tooth. Your dentists will place a temporary crown over your tooth. 

It usually takes about two weeks for your permanent crown to be ready. However, some dentists have the technology to make a permanent crown on the same day. 

If you didn't get a permanent crown put in the same day, you should be extremely careful with your temporary crown. Your dentist will recommend you refrain from chewing your food on that side of your mouth. 

The purpose of temporary crowns is to protect your tooth from infection while your temporary crown is ready. 


Now You Understand a Root Canal Procedure

Now that you know the root canal procedure process, you will feel more comfortable going through the procedure. 

During a root canal, you can expect the dentist to apply a local anesthetic, place a dental dam, open the tooth, exposing the nerve tissue, disinfect the canal, and add a crown.

Are you ready to get the best dental care in the East Meadow area? Contact us today to schedule an appointment. 

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