Hearing that you need a root canal come out of your dentist's mouth is enough to make you cringe. Root canals are known for being long and painful procedures. Here's some good news, though. Thanks to local anesthetics, you won't feel too much during your root canal, and the procedure should actually alleviate your pain. Still, it's nice to know what's going on inside of your mouth. So, take a look at the basic steps a dentist follows when performing a root canal.
Anesthesia and Other Prep
When you first sit down in your dentist's chair, they will do a few key things to prepare you for the actual procedure. First, they usually apply a numbing gel to your gums. This will take the edge off when they then inject a local anesthetic into your cheek and gums. Within about five minutes, most of your mouth will be numb. If you're nervous about the procedure, your dentist may also have you inhale some laughing gas through a little mask. This helps further ease the pain and keep you calm.
Drilling and Pulp Removal
This is the key component of the procedure. With your tooth numb, your dentist will drill a hole from its top surface, down into the roots. Then, through this hole, they will scrape away the root pulp. They may also use a suction tool to help with this. While this is all happening, you will have a rubber dam in your mouth. This can feel a bit awkward, but it's important for the dentist to keep your tooth isolated and avoid spewing infected root tissue all over your mouth. The drilling vibrations may be a bit annoying, but not painful.
Sealing the Tooth
Once all of the root pulp has been removed, your dentist needs to fill the empty root canal. They will use a rubber compound to do this. Basically, they'll shove tubes of the rubber down into your root canals. Then, they will fill the tooth's access hole.
Applying a Crown
Typically, after a root canal, your dentist will apply a temporary crown to the tooth. This will only take a few minutes, and you won't feel much while the work is being done. You'll wear this crown for a week or two until you can return and have a permanent crown put on the tooth.
Now that you're familiar with the basic steps of a root canal procedure, you should feel more comfortable with your dentist's recommendation to have this done.