Ask a Dentist

May 13, 2022

Q: What Can I Expect During My Root Canal Treatment?

An inside look of the dental pulp through transparent glass teeth

Root canal treatment, also known as endodontic therapy, repairs and saves badly damaged or infected teeth without removal. All teeth have a soft core inside called the dental pulp. The pulp contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue. When trauma damages or cracks a tooth, bacteria can enter the pulp, resulting in pulp damage and inflammation. Left untreated, it can worsen and lead to infection or tooth abscess, which can eventually cause pulp death, bone loss and the loss of the tooth. 

Signs and symptoms include severe pain while eating, swollen or tender gums, a cavity, toothache and temperature sensitivity.

How Should I Prepare For The Dental Procedure?

Before your root canal procedure, there are some things you can do to prepare for your treatment. Some actions you can take include:

  • Eating a healthy meal. Your dentist will administer local anesthesia during your treatment. Since your mouth will be numb for a few hours, it’s a good idea to eat before your appointment. 
  • Stop smoking. Tobacco products can interfere with your ability to heal after the procedure. Avoid smoking a few days before your treatment or stop altogether if you can. 
  • Taking all medications prescribed. You may receive antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medicine several days before your appointment, especially if inflammation or infection is present in your tooth. 

What Happens During The Endodontic Treatment?

The treatment typically takes one or two visits. First, your dentist examines the extent of the damage using x-rays. You’ll also receive local anesthesia to make you comfortable. After the tooth is numb, a dental dam is placed around the tooth to keep it clean and free of saliva. Then, an opening is made through the crown of the tooth to gain access to the inside of the tooth. Using small dental instruments, the infected pulp is removed. 

After the infection is removed and the remaining space is cleaned and filled, your dentist will fill the opening with an adhesive cement to temporarily seal off the root canal. This temporary filling will be removed by your dentist once the tooth is restored. In most cases, you may need a dental crown to restore your bite. 

What Can I Expect After The Root Canal Therapy?

You may experience tooth sensitivity for the first few days after your root canal. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help with some of the pain. If the pain lasts more than a few days, talk to your dentist.

If you aren’t a good candidate for root canal therapy, or you opt out of root canal therapy, your tooth can be extracted and replaced with a dental implant or a dental bridge. Although it’s best to maintain your natural smile whenever possible, extraction may be necessary to preserve your oral health. 

If you suspect you may have an inflamed or infected tooth, book an appointment with us right away. Prompt treatment can prevent further damage to your tooth and relieve any pain, so you can go back to performing your daily life like normal. You can find us at one of our Winnipeg locations (Garden City Shopping Centre and St. Vital Centre).

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