Root Canal Treatments: A Step-by-Step Guide

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What is a root canal?

Root canal treatment, also called Endodontic treatment, is needed when the pulp, or the innermost layer of the tooth, becomes infected or inflamed. Pulp inflammation can occur for many different reasons, but most stem from deep tooth decay, repeated dental procedures on one tooth, or a traumatic injury.

The procedure

First, local anesthesia is injected into the mouth to numb the area.

Second, a dental dam is constructed, which is a thin sheet of rubber to separate the tooth being worked on from other teeth, preventing the spread of contamination from other teeth.

Third, dentists drill a small hole through the biting surface of an affected back tooth or from behind a front tooth.

Fourth, dentists pull out diseased and dead pulp tissue from the tooth with technical instruments and canals are washed with antiseptic

Fifth, dentists shape the canals with tiny flexible instruments, allowing the canals to receive fillings on the infected tooth. The canals should fit into the infected tooth perfectly.


After your root canal is completed, the dentist may prescribe an antibiotic to prevent infection. If this is the case, be sure to follow directions exactly, allowing your root canal treatment to heal properly. You will need a crown or a filling to protect the newly-repaired root canal, and taking this antibiotic will prevent bacteria from growing inside that crown or filling.

Comparable to the roots of a plant, the root of a tooth must be properly cared for in order for the tooth to live healthily. Take good care of your roots by brushing and flossing daily, as preventative care is usually less painful, less invasive, and less costly than a treatment plan for a disease that has already developed.