The Timeline of a Root Canal


Most people are nervous the first time they are told by their dentist they need a root canal. The sound of the procedure can be quite off-putting. It sounds painful and scary for many. If you are apprehensive about the procedure recommended, below are some steps that will be included with a root canal procedure so you can fully know what to expect. The more you know, the better prepared you will be to get through it.

A Little Background

Inside each tooth are a root canal system and pulp. The pulp is a living tissue that helps to keep your tooth alive. Inside of it includes the nerves, blood vessels and connective tissues. When the pulp becomes infected or inflamed, a root canal is needed to stop tooth decay from forming or getting worse. Gum disease can cause issues with your pulp and lead to needing root canals. Endodontists generally perform root canal procedures.

General Timeline and Sequence of Root Canals:

•Step 1

Before the procedure can begin, local anesthetics are administered. This is completed using injections around the tooth to be worked on. If your tooth’s pulp is very inflamed, it may take a little time before the numbing works. Your dentist will not begin the procedure until your mouth is completely numb.

•Step 2

The next step your dentist will take is adding a dental dam to your face. It is a thin piece of vinyl or rubber that will cover up any teeth that are not being worked on to keep them safe. The teeth getting worked on will be isolated by a hole punched through the dam. This is done to keep the area sterile while your dentist works on your tooth. If it is not used, bacteria can be transferred to your other teeth and cause issues.

•Step 3

After the area to be worked on is covered and sterile, a small hole is drilled through the biting surface of a tooth adjacent to the affected tooth. This allows the dentist access to treat the root canal and pulp chamber of the bad tooth.

•Step 4

The dentist will then use special instruments to remove any dead or diseased tissue from the affected tooth. They will then clean out the pulp chamber and root canals. The procedure is not painful because of the anesthetics used. Once the pulp and contained nerves are removed, the tooth will no longer feel pain and can begin to heal.

•Step 5

The canals of the roots will be disinfected using antibacterial and antiseptic solutions. The dentist will then use a flexible instrument to shape the canal so they may receive fillers and sealers. Once completed, the area will be cleaned again to remove any debris before getting sealed.

•Step 6

The filling used after a root canal will be selected so that it fits perfectly into the prepared canals. The material used is made from rubber and will be heated before it is shaped to fit the canals and seal them off.

•Step 7

The access hole previously made so the root canals could be treated will then have to be closed off. The dentist will use a permanent or temporary filling material to seal the hole before the dental dam gets removed.

•Step 8

Once the procedure has been completed, you may be prescribed an antibiotic to help prevent any infections. Be sure to follow any aftercare instructions your dentist may give you so that there are no ill effects from the procedure. You may have some discomfort for a few days to a week. You may be able to take over-the-counter pain relievers to help with any discomfort.

•Step 9

Once you are completely healed and the pain has subsided, your dentist may want to restore your tooth with a crown or filling. The procedure can sometimes result in a change to the structure of your tooth, and your dentist will be able to give you restoration options to consider.

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Kevin Schultz is a professional journalist with over 15 years of writing and media experience. He is a full-time contributor to the Themocracy Online News Blog and his insightful writing has been enjoyed by thousands.