Root Canal Procedure Explained: Demystifying the Process and What to Expect

The term “root canal” often invokes fear in many dental patients due to misconceptions about the procedure being painful. However, with modern dental techniques and anesthesia, root canal therapy is typically no more uncomfortable than having a filling placed. The procedure is a crucial treatment for saving and preserving a tooth that has become badly decayed or infected. This guide aims to demystify the root canal procedure, explaining what it involves, what to expect, and how it can relieve pain and save your tooth.

What is a Root Canal?

A root canal is a dental procedure designed to remove bacteria and dead tissue from the infected pulp of a tooth. The pulp is the soft inner core of the tooth that contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. When it becomes infected due to deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or a crack or chip in the tooth, it can cause severe pain and swelling. Left untreated, the infection can lead to an abscess or even spread to other parts of the body.

The Root Canal Procedure: Step by Step

Consultation and Diagnosis

The process begins with X-rays to determine the extent of the infection. Your dentist or endodontist (a dentist specializing in treating the inside of the tooth) will review these images to plan the best approach for your treatment.


To ensure comfort, the area around the tooth is numbed with local anesthesia. Despite the procedure’s reputation, most patients experience minimal discomfort, similar to having a filling placed.

Removing the Infected Pulp

The dentist will place a small protective sheet called a “dental dam” around the tooth to isolate it and keep it clean and free of saliva during the procedure. A small opening is made in the crown of the tooth to access the infected pulp, which is then removed using small instruments.

Cleaning and Sealing the Tooth

After the infected pulp is removed, the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected. It is then filled with a biocompatible material, usually a rubber-like material called gutta-percha, to seal it and prevent further infection. The opening in the tooth is sealed with a temporary filling.


After the root canal, the tooth needs to be restored to its full function and appearance. This usually involves placing a crown or other restoration on the tooth to protect it and restore it to full function. The restoration process may take place in the same appointment or during a follow-up visit.

What to Expect After a Root Canal

Following a root canal, it is normal to experience some tenderness or discomfort in the area for a few days, which can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain medications. Most people can return to their normal activities the next day. It’s important to follow any aftercare instructions provided by your dentist, including practicing good oral hygiene and avoiding chewing on the treated tooth until it has been fully restored.


The root canal procedure is a highly effective treatment for saving an infected or decayed tooth, relieving pain, and preventing further infection. With advancements in dental technology and anesthesia, the procedure is more comfortable than ever, debunking the myth that it’s a painful experience. If you’re experiencing tooth pain or sensitivity, consult with your dentist promptly. Early intervention can save your tooth and preserve your smile.

At Canyon Dental Associates, we’re committed to providing compassionate, patient-centered care. Our team uses the latest techniques and technology to ensure your root canal procedure is as comfortable and effective as possible, helping you maintain your oral health and well-being.


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