What Happens During a Root Canal?

Each year, dentists save more than 15 million teeth with root canal therapy. Your dentist in Clayton provides root canal treatment that saves teeth, preserves oral health, and maintains beautiful smiles.

What is the Root Canal?

To understand what Dr. Brown does during a root canal treatment, it's first helpful to understand tooth anatomy and development.  

White enamel covers and protects your tooth, and a layer of hard dentin sits just beneath the enamel. Inside the dentin is a soft tissue, known as pulp, which contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. Early in their development, teeth rely on the structures that make up pulp; once fully grown, teeth can survive without their pulp.

The pulp extends from the crown of the tooth, which is the part visible above the gumline, to the tooth’s root. The root of the tooth is actually a hollow canal, known as the root canal. During a root canal treatment, your dentist cleans out infected material from the root canal.

When do Dentists Recommend Root Canal Therapy?

Dentists may recommend endodontic treatment when a tooth is so badly damaged or diseased that conventional treatment cannot save it. Generally, they will recommend root canal therapy when the pulp is infected or inflamed as the result of:

  • Deep tooth decay
  • Repeated procedures on an individual tooth
  • A visibly cracked or chipped tooth
  • Damage to the pulp after an injury

Dr. Brown may recommend an immediate root canal procedure if you are in imminent danger of losing the tooth or are in great pain.  

What Happens During the Root Canal Procedure?

You may complete the root canal procedure in one or two visits. As with other dental treatments, root canal therapy begins with a thorough examination of the affected teeth along with the nearby teeth and tissue. This examination usually includes a radiograph, or an x-ray, to see inside the tooth.

Your dentist will numb the tooth with a local anesthetic to help reduce pain during the treatment. After your tooth is numb, your dentist will place a dental dam, which is a protective sheet that isolates the tooth, keeps it clean, and protects it from saliva.  

Next, your dentist will make an opening in the crown of your tooth. They will use very small instruments to precisely clean the pulp from the pulp chamber and root canals. Your dentist will also shape the inside of the root canal to prepare it for filling.  

Your dentist will then fill the treated root canal with a biocompatible material that prevents further decay and offers some support. The dentist will place this rubber-like material, known as gutta-percha, with a cement-like material and completely seal the root canals. If your case is typical, your dentist will place a temporary filling at the top of the tooth to close the gap. They will remove this temporary filling when they restore the tooth with a crown or other restoration later.  

If your tooth does not have enough structure to hold a restoration, your dentist may place a post inside the tooth to provide extra strength and structure. Fortunately, root canal procedures can save most teeth.  

After your root canal procedure, you can control any mild discomfort you may have with over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Contact your emergency dentist right away if these non-prescription medications do not reduce pain.  

For the first few days after your root canal procedure, you may experience sensitivity, swelling, or inflammation.  

Root Canal Cost

The average root canal cost varies from $600 to $1200, depending on a number of factors, such as the location of the tooth and the amount of restoration it needs.  

The cost of a root canal procedure can be less than replacing the tooth that you might have otherwise lost. Saving a tooth is always worthwhile to maintain the aesthetic appeal of your smile and your overall oral health.  

Where can I get a root canal near me?

If you think you may need a root canal treatment, contact Austin K. Brown DDS for a consultation on root canal therapy, emergency dental care, and other general and family dental care.  

Reach out to us!

We look forward to meeting you. Call 925-672-1559 or request an appointment online to set up your first visit. We'll be in touch soon.