Root Canal Treatment: What to Expect During the Procedure

Root canal treatment, also known as endodontic treatment, is a dental procedure that treats infection in the tooth’s root while preserving the natural tooth as much as possible. It eliminates infection or inflammation in the soft tissue or pulp inside the tooth by removing the damaged tissue. Once extraction is done, the tooth is sealed so bacteria cannot enter and accumulate. 

A root canal typically takes around 90 minutes to three hours, depending on many factors. You can get it done in one dental appointment, but you might need two visits in some cases. 

Why is a Root Canal Procedure Needed?

The pulp is the living tissue inside the tooth that connects the root to the bone and gums. It is filled with blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissues – and sometimes this tissue becomes infected. Inflammation happens when soft tissues are exposed to bacteria due to cavity, cracked or chipped teeth, or when the teeth have undergone repetitive dental procedures or trauma. 

A root canal therapy will eliminate the infected tissues while preserving your natural tooth. It is important to get a root canal procedure as soon as possible so that the infection does not spread to nearby teeth. 

When dental infections get worse, teeth can turn yellow or black. Aside from pain, discoloration leads to an unappealing appearance. There’s risk that the infection can spread throughout the body through blood, which can be life threatening if left untreated. 

Depending on the circumstances, do know that dental professionals may be unable to treat some teeth with an endodontic procedure. It can happen when the root is severely damaged or the tooth does not have enough support.

Steps of a Root Canal Treatment

To rectify the root canal infection, the dentist needs to get rid of the bacteria causing it.

Your dentist can treat the infection in two ways:

  • by removing the whole tooth or
  • by removing the bacteria in the root canal system

However, keeping your natural tooth as much as possible is recommended. Preserve a better-looking smile by going with a root canal treatment instead.

The first step of the procedure involves the dentist using a local anesthetic to numb the area so that you won’t feel any discomfort as dental professionals work to treat your tooth.

The dentist or endodontist will isolate the tooth where the root canal is infected. They will make an opening of your tooth to access the pulp chamber. The root canal is disinfected to kill the bacteria. Next, they will rinse out debris and other remaining particles. 

Endodontic instruments extract the infected pulp, and the opening is cleaned and shaped to prepare for fillings. After the previous step, the dentist will fill the root canals so that no bacteria will rest or accumulate there. Finally, the dental professional will seal the opening to prevent undesirable particles from entering.

Root canal treatments are usually successful, with 9 out of 10 cases where the treated tooth lasts for a decade or more.

How to Properly Recover from a Root Canal Procedure

Once the treatment is done, take care of your teeth as they recover from the procedure.

During this recovery period, avoid hard foods that require strong bites. Additionally, don’t bite or chew using the affected tooth. 

Eat only soft and easy-to-chew foods while you wait for your teeth to heal. Healing will usually take a few days or within the week.

If the tooth feels sore and you experience discomfort, take painkillers that you can get over the counter. Some examples are ibuprofen and paracetamol; both are quite accessible. You may need to go back to the dentist if the pain worsens despite taking painkillers.

Help your teeth heal faster by keeping them clean. Not indulging in treats that damage the teeth, such as sugary foods or cigarettes, can help them recover quickly.

Will the tooth require additional treatment or special care after the root canal procedure? There may be a need to repeat the process if the treated area is still painful or not fully healed. The tooth remains infected if there is deep decay, cracked fillings, or new infections after the treatment. Fortunately, these cases are quite rare. 

If the treated tooth does get fractured, you must see the dentist as soon as possible to get it fully restored.

Hopefully, the article covered everything you expected during a root canal treatment. You are better prepared for the procedure when you know why you need it, the steps involved, and how to recover after you get one. If you are busy, allocate one to three hours of the day for root canal treatment.

About The Author

Dr. Koch

Dr. Robert Koch

Dr. Robert Koch earned a Masters degree in Biomedical Science and Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from Midwestern University. Dr. Koch’s patient-first approach to dentistry is rooted in education for both himself and his patients. Staying up to date with the latest advances in dentistry allows him to offer the best treatment plans for his patients. He aims to educate and inform patients in a comforting environment that allows patients to feel confident in the decision-making process of their treatment.