Root Canal Treatment Steps: What to Expect from the Procedure

You’ve just received the news. You need a root canal. It’s not on your top ten list of things to experience in your lifetime.

But, here you are. You’ve no idea what to expect, and it’s ramping up your anxiety and fear. Don’t worry, dentists perform over 41,000 root canals each day!

Let’s take the mystery out it. Learn the root canal treatment steps you’ll go through. You won’t need to guess, you’ll know what to expect every step of the way!

What is a Root Canal?

First, do you actually know what a root canal is and why you need one?

A root canal is a procedure used to clean a deep infection out of a tooth. Bacteria and dead tissue get removed from the inside of the tooth to help it live. It’s filled and sealed to prevent future infections.

Dentists do root canals to preserve your teeth. It’s preferable to extractions because there are benefits to keeping your original teeth. Keeping your teeth helps maintain bite alignment and allows you to chew well.

But, what steps will you go through when you receive a root canal? Let’s look a little deeper into it!

Root Canal Treatment Steps

From learning the news to aftercare, here’s everything you need to know about your root canal.

Step 1: Get Prepared

You know you need a root canal. Now what?

Well, it’s time to prepare yourself for the procedure. The first step? Make your immune system as strong as it can be!

Here are some things you can do to prepare yourself for a full and speedy recovery.

  • Get a Good Night’s Sleep
  • Eat Healthy Foods
  • Take Your Vitamins
  • Take Prescribed Antibiotics

It’s going to be a long process. You may be in the dentist’s chair for an hour or two. Pick out some music or a good audiobook to help you pass the time. This can also keep your mind off of the procedure.

Pick up any painkillers or post-procedure antibiotics before you go in for the root canal. Or, make sure you have someone available to help. You’re not going to feel like doing it right after.

Make sure you have some ice packs or cubes frozen in advance. Putting ice on the location of your root canal can reduce swelling and pain.

Step 2: The Procedure

Here are the root canal treatment steps that happen during the actual procedure.

1. Numbing

Your dentist will use a needle to numb the area around the infected tooth. You’ll feel the stick, but numbing happens pretty quick.

Communicate with your dentist as he tests the area. Let them know if you still have feeling in the area around the tooth. The procedure will not begin until your dentist knows the numbing has taken effect.

2. Damming the Tooth

A dam is a piece of rubber that fits around the infected tooth. Your dentist will stretch the rubber and fit it around the tooth before they begin the procedure.

This tool keeps the tooth clean and dry during the procedure. It can also keep you from ingesting contaminated tooth matter. It’s important for keeping you and your tooth healthy.

3. Drilling

The dentist will drill a hole into the surface of the tooth to expose the infected area. The area of drilling depends on the infection. Your dentist will use X-rays to help guide them.

This part of the procedure can be noisy and cause some stress. Try to relax by listening to your music or audiobook. Or, take your mind off the drilling sounds with meditation.

4. Cleaning Out the Tooth

Using small tools and suction, your dentist removes infected tissue from the tooth. This is an important step in the root canal. Your dentist will need to remove it all to preserve the tooth.

You may hear some scraping and sucking sounds during this part of the procedure. Communicate with your dentist if you feel any pain.

5. Shaping the Interior

Your dentist shapes the inside of the tooth after the infection is gone. They’ll use small files to do this. It might need a little more drilling, depending on the tooth.

Once the shaping’s done, your tooth’s irrigated with water to clean it out. Now, it’s ready to fill!

6. Filling and Sealing the Tooth

Your dentist will use small tools to insert a rubbery material inside your cleaned tooth. This material will seal up the inside to prevent bacteria from entering the tooth. It will fill the tooth completely.

Some grinding’s done to make sure there are no sharp areas on the surface of the tooth. The dentist will test your bite to make sure you won’t have trouble chewing while you wait for your crown. A temporary seal’s placed on top.

You’ll still need to come back for your final restoration. Whether that’s a seal or a crown is up to you and your dentist.

8. Returning for Final Restoration Fitting

Your last step in the root canal treatment process is to have your final restoration. It’s fitted over the tooth and usually requires a separate visit. You may have a permanent seal or a crown fitted over the tooth.

The final restoration is protective and designed to mimic your original tooth’s surface. Its sole purpose is to protect your tooth from future decay or damage.

Step 3: After Care Steps

Your dentist will send you home with aftercare instructions. Here are some of the things you’ll see on that list.

  • Take Antibiotics and Painkillers as Prescribed
  • Keep the Tooth and Procedure Site Clean
  • Use Ice for Swelling and Pain Management
  • Rest and Recover
  • Show Up for Follow Up Appointments

Aftercare for your root canal is a priority in the first few days following your procedure. Don’t schedule big events during your recovery period. Keep stress low and allow your mouth the time it needs to heal.

Relax, It’s Just a Root Canal

Now that you know the root canal treatment steps, you can relax. Your root canal will be a smooth procedure. It’s worth the extra effort to save your natural teeth!

Looking for a dentist in the Birmingham area? Give Dr. Doug Lewis a call! Here’s the best way to contact us.