Do You Need a Root Canal? What to Expect

By Aspen Dental

What to expect

The initial process of the procedure is to use an x-ray to observe the form and shape of the root canals, determine if there are any signs of infection in a surrounding bone and locate the decay.

Anesthesia – With modern anesthetics, the procedure is entirely painless. Local anesthesia such as lidocaine is used to numb the area near the tooth although this may not be necessary since the nerve is dead.

Pulpectomy – Thirdly, the area is kept dry and free of saliva during treatment, by placing a rubber dam around the tooth. A hole to will then be drilled into the tooth to access the pulp. The infected pulp, the dead nerve tissue will be removed from the tooth. Root canal files are then used to clean the tooth. With increasing diameter of these files, each are subsequently placed into the hole and worked down the full length of the tooth to scrape and scrub the sides of the root canals. Sodium hypochlorite or water is used at intervals to wash away the debris.

Filling – After the tooth is properly cleaned, it is then sealed. We like to wait a week before sealing the tooth making sure infection is gone. Your tooth will be filled with a temporary filling to keep contaminants like saliva and food from entering the tooth until your follow up appointment.

After the Root Canal Treatment

Most patients can return to their normal activities the next day, some may experience some tenderness and the area might be a little sore for a few days after the root canal treatment. This soreness can be controlled with over-the-counter pain medications such as naproxen (Aleve) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).

How Effective is a Root Canal Treatment?

Root canal treatments are rated highly successful with more than a 95% success rate. Many teeth fixed with a root canal can last a long time. A tooth with well-treated root canal restorations and filings will last for many years and possibly a lifetime.

How Much is a Root Canal Treatment?

The cost of a root canal varies depending on how severe the case is, including the affected tooth.

Recommendations for a Long Lasting Root Canal Treatment

One of the best ways for your treatment to be a success is for you to follow up with your dentist often.   

Avoid chewing ice as this can lead to permanent damage, putting small cracks in the enamel. These cracks can grow larger over time and ultimately cause a tooth fracture, requiring a visit to your dentist and an unnecessary expense getting those cracks fixed.

Brush often, floss, and use an antiseptic mouthwash between your dental appointments.