What Happens During a Root Canal

Root Canal Dentist in Grand Rapids, MI

Have you recently been scheduled for a root canal procedure? If so, you’ll want to read our blog post to learn what happens during a root canal. Knowing the root canal treatment steps will help you feel informed and prepared when you sit in the dentist’s chair.

If you suspect you need an emergency root canal, we suggest calling your emergency dentist as soon as possible. The sooner you treat an infected tooth, the better chance you have of avoiding tooth extraction.

Signs You Need a Root Canal

The inside of your tooth is filled with living tissue called tooth pulp. When this tooth pulp becomes infected by an untreated cavity, you could lose the tooth if you don’t schedule emergency root canal therapy.

Signs you need a root canal include:

  • Toothache
  • Prolonged tooth sensitivity to heat or cold
  • Darkening of the tooth
  • Swelling around the tooth
  • Pimple on gums

Keep in mind that sometimes there are no symptoms to indicate an abscessed tooth, which is why it’s important to schedule routine dental exams and teeth cleanings with your family dentist. During your appointment, your Grand Rapids dentist will be able to detect cavities in their early stages before they compromise your teeth. Patients often need root canals for deep tooth decay or for teeth left fragile from multiple dental procedures.

Root Canal Procedure

1.) Numb Tooth with Local Anesthesia

First, your root canal dentist will need to numb the area around the tooth so you don’t feel pain during the procedure. You may feel a slight pinch when the local anesthesia is injected. Once the tooth is numb, your dentist will place a small rubber sheet called a dental dam around the tooth to isolate it from the rest of your mouth. While this may seem weird, the sheet is designed to keep the tooth clean and dry during the root canal.

2.) Remove Infected Dental Pulp

Next, your dentist will drill a small hole through the top of your tooth in order to access the infected tooth pulp. Once inside your tooth, your dentist will use special tools to remove infected dental pulp and reshape the inside of your tooth. For good measure, your dentist may flush out the inner chamber of your tooth with water or put in a special solution to kill any remaining bacteria.

3.) Seal and Restore Tooth

When the inside of your tooth has been cleaned and dried, your dentist will fill it with a special material called gutta percha before placing a temporary filling on top. To restore the tooth to its original strength, you’ll need to come back to have a permanent filling or root canal crown placed over the tooth.

Root Canal Aftercare

After a root canal, it’s normal for you to experience dental discomfort. Your dentist may prescribe you something to manage the pain and antibiotics, which need to be taken as directed. We recommend taking ibuprofen before the numbness wears off from your root canal procedure. If the pain doesn’t go away after a few days, be sure to call your dentist as soon as possible.

Dr. Spraggins DDS at River Valley Dental will do everything in his power to save a tooth through root canal therapy. If you have a severe toothache and suspect you might need a root canal, be sure to schedule an appointment with our Grand Rapids root canal dentist at (616) 363-5677.