Root Canal: What To Expect!

People hear about root canal treatment and think of an uncomfortable experience that they like to avoid. The fact is such treatment is the only option when it is required. When a dentist suggests such treatment, it is not by choice but because the condition of a tooth needs such procedure.One indication for it is when your tooth develops an abscess and need to prevent the infection from spreading to the rest of your teeth


An abscess is the painful end result of a cavitated tooth. Decay starts at the surface of the tooth and progresses into the deeper tissues. As soon as the outer tissue (Enamel) of the tooth is breached, the nerve starts to response by inflammation. If not treated, the decay progresses deeper, as it get closer to the nerve, the inflammation becomes stronger. Eventually, even sometimes without the decay reaching the nerve, the nerve will degenerate and this is the beginning of forming an abscess under the tooth.

You can reduce your chances of developing an abscess by:

  • Not leaving a cavity untreated
  • Regular visits to the dentist
  • Not using your teeth to on hard food or objects
  • Keeping dental drilling to a minimum

If the procedure is required, what to expect?

The first visit: usually involves the diagnosis for the condition, and choosing the procedure as the treatment of choice for the tooth.

This is determined by:

– presenting symptoms.

–  Clinical examination, revealing a cavity. The size and position within a tooth can give an indication of nerve involvement.

– X-rays, showing decay going deep within a tooth.

Once the consent for treatment has been submitted. The dentist will numb the tooth. Drill the cavity, aiming to:

1- Get rid of all the decay first. It is the source of infection and we need to eliminate it.

2- expose the nerve roof.

3- drilling through the roof to expose the entire nerve system.

Once the nerve system has been exposed. the second step involves negotiating the canals that go into the roots of the teeth. The purpose is:

– Locate all the nerves and canals.

– Debride all the nerves and extirpate them, to eliminate pain.

– Debride canals to remove the infected tissues inside.

This is achieved using files. whether hand held or machine-driven files.

– Then a dressing is placed within the top part fo the nerve system and sealed using a temporary filling.

– second visit:

– The aim is to get a straight access into the last part of the root canals.

– sequential files are used within the canal to enlarge it and debride it further.

– a disinfectant is used to irrigate within the canal to kill the germs

– once that is done, the canals are dried.

– a canal filling (rubber called Gutta Percha) is introduced into the canal after being dipped in a sealer and may be softened by heat.

once this visit is concluded some discomfort might linger for a week or two.

– Third visit

– One or two posts are required to go into the canals. These canals are drilled, and a post is cemented.

– the definite filling is packed to close the access.

– The best restoration after the root canal is a crown which needs more visits and a different procedure.


Root canal treatment is sometimes the only option to save a tooth. Albeit some discomfort might accompany the procedure, it is worth while if you want to save your teeth 

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