What are the steps for root canal treatment?

If you have an infection in the center part of your tooth, you will probably be referred for a procedure called root canal treatment. A root canal is designed to remove infection at the heart of a tooth, and in most cases, is the only effective way of saving the tooth from certain death or extraction. It has a bad reputation, but modern anesthetic, tools, and techniques mean that root canal is now no longer anywhere near as frightening as its reputation would suggest. In fact, it is an extremely commonly performed procedure that has saved millions of patients around the world from losing teeth.


We know that any dental treatment can be daunting if you haven’t experienced it before. For this reason, we think it’s important for patients to be properly prepared. A root canal is normally performed in several steps. To help you know what to expect, here’s what you need to know about the different stages of root canal treatment.




Before you can have your root canal treatment, you’ll first need to undergo x-rays of the affected tooth. This allows your dentist to visualize the root canal and assess the extent of any damage before you start the treatment.


The Day of Your Root Canal


Step one of the root canal focuses on removing infected material from inside the root canal. This is done using a local anesthetic, although it may be possible for you to have some sedation if you are particularly anxious about the treatment.


Removing the Pulp


You’ll have a rubber sheet placed around the tooth to keep it dry during treatment, and to prevent you from swallowing any of the chemicals your dentist may use. Your dentist will create an opening in the top part of your tooth, and this will expose part of the tooth called the pulp. This is the soft tissue at the center of the tooth. Any infected pulp will be removed, and if you have an abscess (a pus-filled swelling) this will be drained.  


Cleaning the Root Canal


Once the infected pulp has been removed, your dentist will turn their attention to the root canal. Not only will any infected tissue be removed from within the root canals of the affected tooth, but the canals themselves will also be enlarged using a series of small files. It’s important to remember that larger teeth usually have two or three root canals, meaning that this process can take time and may require more than one visit to your dentist.


Sealing the Tooth


Once your dentist is satisfied that the root canals are completely clean, a medicine may be inserted into the root canals to prevent re-infection, and your tooth will be sealed using a temporary filling or crown and left to rest. If your dentist is concerned that you may have an infection, you may be given antibiotics too.


Returning for Your Root Canals to be Filled


Around a week or so later, your dentist will ask you to return for the second part of your root canal treatment. This involves removing the temporary filling and, provided the root canal is still clean and shows no sign of reinfection, filling the canals permanently. This helps to seal the tooth and prevents re-infection. Next, a permanent filling or crown is used to seal the tooth, completing the treatment.


What if the Infection Has Returned When I Go Back for the Root Canals to be Checked?


If there is any sign of infection when you return for the second part of your treatment, you will likely need to have the middle stages of treatment repeated again to finally remove all traces of diseased tissue. Your dentist will be able to advise you if this is the case.


When performed by a trained and experienced dentist, a root canal is successful in saving around 90% of teeth that would otherwise need an extraction or would fall out.


Learn more about root canal treatment, contact Above & Beyond Dental in Bedford, TX at (817) 571-1667 to schedule an appointment today!