Root Canal Treatment: What to Expect

man wincing in pain holding cheek

So, you need a root canal? Before you settle into the dentist chair, let’s go over what a root canal is, what you should expect during the procedure, and how to care for yourself post-treatment.

What Is a Root Canal?

A root canal is a procedure that repairs and saves a tooth that is badly decayed, damaged, or infected. During the treatment, the nerves and pulp (the damaged area of the tooth) are removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and disinfected before it is sealed. Often the problem is caused by a cracked tooth, repeated dental treatment to the tooth, a deep cavity, or trauma. Without treatment, the tissue that surrounds the tooth becomes infected and abscesses could form.

What Happens During The Procedure?

We briefly touched upon what happens during a root canal, but let’s dive deeper into the entire process.

First, Dr. Henson will confirm that you need a root canal after you’ve scheduled an appointment to examine your infected tooth. During that initial visit, Dr. Henson and her team will take X-rays to see the shape of the root canals, determine if there are any signs of infection in the surrounding bone, and locate the exact spot of the decay.

Next, Dr. Henson and her team will administer local anesthesia to numb the area near the tooth. To keep the area dry and saliva-free, we’ll place a rubber dam around the tooth. Then, we drill an access hole into the tooth so that the pulp, bacteria, decayed nerve tissue, and any other debris can be removed from the tooth. We clean this area out using root canal files to scrape and scrub the sides of the root canals. We flush away the debris with water or sodium hypochlorite.

After cleaning the tooth, Dr. Henson and her team will seal it either same day or during another appointment if there is an infection that needs to be treated. Once the tooth is ready to be sealed, we’ll fill it with a rubbery substance that acts as a sealant. This substance completely blocks the entire root structure to prevent saliva and food from reaching the inner structures of the tooth and reinfecting it. A filling is also placed in the exterior access hole created at the start of the procedure.

Occasionally, we might need to further restore the tooth by placing a crown over the weakened tooth to protect it, prevent it from breaking, or restoring it to full function.

What Is the Recovery for a Root Canal?

For the first few days after the procedure, your tooth may feel sensitive due to inflammation, especially if there was an infection in the tooth. You can manage this pain with over-the-counter medications. Many patients can return to their normal activities as early as the next day, though. You’ll need to schedule follow up appointments with us, as well as practice good oral hygiene and avoiding hard foods for a time.

If you think you might need a root canal, contact us so we can see you as soon as possible and take care of the problem. At Henson Family Dental, we’re dedicated to providing you with the absolute best care!