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

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root canal procedure

You may be aware of what a root canal procedure is. In fact, you may be due for one soon. What you’re most wondering, though, is: what happens during a root canal?

Root canal treatment involves a number of steps, all of which we’re going to discuss below. Here is the typical root canal timeline.

What Is a Root Canal?

Maybe you’re not sure what a root canal is? If not, you could benefit from an explanation before we discuss the root canal process. Simply put, a root canal is a procedure in which infected pulp is removed from a tooth.

Once the pulp is removed, it’s replaced with synthetic filling. This filling stops the spread of bacteria and therefore eliminates any infection that might have been present.

There are a number of reasons that a tooth’s pulp might become infected. The tooth might have suffered a chip or a crack; it might have suffered intense physical trauma; it might even just be suffering from general tooth decay.

Root Canal Procedure: The Steps

A root canal procedure consists of many different steps and can take place across one or more appointments. Let’s discuss each step in detail now.

Assessing Whether a Root Canal Is Necessary

First, the dentist will assess the patient’s teeth to determine whether a root canal is necessary. This will generally occur during a general checkup. However, the patient might seek out emergency dental services after an accident; it could occur during this type of appointment as well.

There are many different signs of the need for a root canal procedure. These include regular tooth pain, tooth discoloration, cracked teeth, or even wiggling or loosened teeth. Your dentist will examine the affected area to determine whether any of these signs are present.

If a root canal procedure is deemed necessary, you’ll most likely schedule an appointment for a future date. In special cases, however, the procedure might be facilitated right after the initial assessment.

Preparing the Affected Area

Now, the procedure itself will begin. It kicks off with the prepping of the affected area. First, your dentist will rub a numbing agent against your gums.

Then, once the numbing agent has taken hold, your dentist will inject a local anesthetic into your gums. This will take 2 to 5 minutes to have an effect but will then leave the affected area entirely numb to pain or discomfort.

Once the affected area is entirely numbed, your dentist will equip your mouth with a dental dam. This is a latex sheet that covers all of the teeth, with the exception of the tooth or teeth that are being operated on.

Note that your dentist will likely place a wedge or prop device in your mouth as well. This will ensure that your mouth stays open throughout the procedure, allowing your dentist to have free access to your affected tooth for the duration.

It’s also usually necessary for the dentist to place a suction tube in the patient’s mouth. This clears the mouth of saliva and allows the dentist to work with little interruption.

Drilling Through the Affected Tooth

Now that the prepping has been done, the dentist will begin the procedure by drilling through the affected tooth. This is done as a means of accessing the tooth’s decayed pulp.

Remember: the area is numb throughout the procedure. As such, you won’t experience any pain or discomfort while the tooth is being drilled.

Cleaning Out the Decayed Pulp

Once the dentist has gained access to the decayed pulp, they will use a variety of tools to extract the decayed portions from the tooth. Once the decayed portions have been removed, the dentist will inject antibacterial and antiseptic substances into the root canal and pulp chamber.

These substances will eliminate all traces of decay and kill the infection entirely.

Filling the Root Canal

The infected pulp has been removed. Now, it has to be replaced with something. After all, you can’t just leave the tooth hollow.

Your dentist will start the filling process by carefully shaping the inside of the root canal. Then, once your dentist has shaped the canal properly, they will add a synthetic substance called gutta-percha. Once inside the tooth, this gutta-percha will be heated so that it hardens and comprises the tooth’s core.

To finish off the filling, your dentist will add adhesive cement. This will solidify the inside of the tooth and will also close off the hole that was drilled earlier in the procedure. The hole must be filled in its entirety so as to prevent bacteria from making their way through it in the future and causing further infection.

Recovering from the Procedure

If the treated tooth has an acceptable aesthetic, the procedure will be over. At this point, all that will be left to do is to recover.

Recovery varies from person to person and from procedure to procedure. In some cases, the patient will need to take antibiotics as a means of killing off the rest of the initial infection. In other cases, this is not necessary.

Regardless, over-the-counter pain medications are recommended. They’ll help relieve any aching that might exist. In some situations, it might also be wise for the patient to apply cold packs.

Having a Crown Applied

In many root canal procedures, the process ends after the filling of the tooth. However, if the tooth’s aesthetic has been compromised, the patient and dentist might elect to have a dental crown applied.

This will usually happen in an appointment separate from the initial root canal procedure. In most cases, it occurs several weeks after the root canal has been carried out.

Need a Root Canal Procedure in North York, Toronto?

Are you due for a root canal procedure? Need a root canal procedure in North York, Toronto? If so, DentalX has you covered.

Featuring a multi-lingual staff of dentists and other dental professionals, we go out of our way to create a comfortable and inviting experience for all of our patients.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment!