Did you know that over 15 million root canals are performed every single year? Needless to say, we have tons of experience with this procedure and there’s nothing to worry about.
For many patients, learning more about how the procedure works can do wonders toward calming their nerves. Root canals don’t take long and most patients find that once it’s over, their problem tooth is never a problem again!
So, what are the root canal procedure steps? What do we do when you come in for a root canal?
Read on to find out all about the root canal procedure so that you can prepare for yours.
Signs That You Need a Root Canal
Root canals are used to treat teeth that have decayed or become severely infected. More specifically, a root canal will remove the pulp of a tooth if that pulp is damaged or infected. How can you tell if this is a procedure that would benefit you?
Sometimes, there are no noticeable signs that you need a root canal. In this case, your dentist will only realize that the procedure is necessary during your regular check-up.
However, some noticeable signs include:
- Severe pain in a specific tooth when pressure is applied (ie when chewing)
- Sensitivity or pain in response to hot or cold temperatures that persists even after the source of heat or cold has been removed
- Discoloration (ie the tooth appears darker than it should)
- Inflammation (swelling) or tenderness in the surrounding gum tissue
- A pimple that persists or comes back frequently on the gum tissue
In severe cases, you may also experience swelling in the face or neck. This and other extreme symptoms only arise if the tooth is left untreated for a long period of time.
The 5 Root Canal Procedure Steps
Perhaps these signs sound familiar to you or perhaps we’ve already scheduled your root canal procedure. Let’s take a closer look at what we’ll be doing to treat your affected tooth. In most cases, the root canal procedure time is between 30 and 60 minutes.
Step 1. Preparation
We will start by numbing the area with a local anesthetic. Because root canals aren’t complicated procedures, we don’t need to put you under while we complete them. Instead, we inject a numbing agent into your gums and into the root of the affected tooth.
Once the numbing agent sets in, we will place a dental dam in your mouth. This dental dam exposes the tooth we are operating on while protecting the rest of your teeth.
Step 2. Accessing the Roots and Cleaning Them
Now, it’s time for us to get into the root canals and pulp chamber. We do this by drilling a small hole that gives us easy access.
We then use dental tools to clean out the root canals and pulp chamber. Our goal is to remove all of the infected or damaged pulp.
We will also use antibacterial and antiseptic solutions to make sure the canals are disinfected. These eliminate any remaining bacteria and treat the infection that caused the tooth to decay or become damaged.
Step 3. Shaping the Canals
Next, we will shape the canals using more small dental tools. This is done so that we can fill them in the next step.
After shaping the canals, we clean them again. This is the best way to ensure that no bacteria or agitating debris remain in the tooth.
Step 4. Filling the Canals
Once the canals are shaped and cleaned, it’s time to fill them. We fill the canals with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. When the gutta-percha is in the canals, we can heat and compress it so that it fills the canals fully.
We then seal the gutta-percha in place using adhesive dental cement. This seal will prevent bacteria from entering and infecting the canals in the future.
Step 5. Closing Off Access to the Canals
Remember that small hole we created to access the canals and pulp of your affected tooth? The final step is to close that hole back up. A sealant is used to cover the hole.
If the tooth is particularly weak or damaged, we may need to place a small post in the canal before sealing it off. This is to ensure that it’s strong enough for healing and restoration.
Post-Procedural Root Canal Steps
What can you expect once the root canal procedure is complete?
In some cases, we may give you a prescription for an antibiotic that you can fill at your pharmacy. This is to help kill off any remaining infection, if necessary.
We will also give you some simple after-care instructions to follow in the next few days. You may experience a bit of root canal procedure pain which you can treat with over-the-counter pain medication.
Depending on the area and extent of damage, we may schedule a follow-up appointment. During the follow-up appointment, we will fit the treated tooth with a crown that matches your other teeth. We only need to complete this step if we treated one of your back teeth or if the damage that we treated was severe.
Need a Root Canal? No Biggie!
Root canals are one of those procedures that tend to cause a little bit of nervousness. As you can see from the root canal procedure steps, however, there’s really nothing to worry about!
Are you looking for exceptional dental care in Lakewood, Colorado? From root canals to full mouth reconstruction, we’re here to meet your dental needs.
If you have questions or want to schedule your next appointment, contact us today. You can reach us at 303-987-2121 or contact us online using our feedback form or online scheduler. We look forward to seeing you soon!