You might feel nervous –– or maybe a sense of dread –– when your dentist recommends root canal therapy. You certainly aren’t alone. In fact, more than 15 million teeth are treated and saved each year with root canal treatment. Knowing what to expect can help put your mind at ease. If you’ve wondering what are the steps to a root canal, we’ll explain everything you need to know to help you prepare for a smooth, comfortable treatment.

Reasons You May Need a Root Canal

You may need endodontic treatment like a root canal when the pulp, otherwise known as the soft tissue inside the root canal, becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes, including deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or a crack or chip in the tooth.

Additionally, a tooth injury may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.

Be sure to contact your dentist if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain while chewing or biting
  • Pimples on the gums
  • A chipped or cracked tooth
  • Lingering sensitivity to hot or cold, even after the sensation has been removed
  • Swollen or tender gums
  • Deep decay or darkening of the gums

Your dentist will perform a dental exam, and if he or she determines that you need a root canal, you’ll likely be referred to an endodontist for treatment.

Steps to a Root Canal

When your general dentist refers you to our team at Endodontic Specialists of Colorado, we work to efficiently diagnose the cause of your tooth pain and create a personalized treatment plan.

Endodontic treatment can often be performed in one or two visits and involves the following steps:

  1. Your endodontist examines your teeth and takes a radiograph of the tooth using x-rays, then administers local anesthetic. After the tooth is numb, your doctor places a small protective sheet called a “dental dam” over the area to isolate the tooth and keep it clean and free of saliva during the procedure.
  2. Your doctor then makes an opening in the crown of the tooth. Very small instruments are used to clean the pulp from the pulp chamber and root canals and to shape the space for filling.
  3. After space is cleaned and shaped, your endodontist fills the root canals with a biocompatible material, usually a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. The gutta-percha is placed with an adhesive cement to ensure complete sealing of the root canals. In most cases, a temporary filling is placed to close the opening. The temporary filling will be removed by your dentist before the tooth is restored.
  4. After the final visit with your endodontist, you must return to your dentist to have a crown or other restoration placed on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function.

If the tooth lacks sufficient structure to hold the restoration in place, your dentist or endodontist may place a post inside the tooth. Every smile is unique, and our team will carefully review all the details of your treatment plan with you prior to your root canal.

What to Expect After a Root Canal

Our team of doctors uses the latest relaxation and sedation methods to keep our patients as comfortable as possible during root canal treatment. However, it’s still normal for your tooth to feel sensitive the first few days after treatment, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. Over-the-counter medications are usually enough to relieve the discomfort.

When you need endodontic care, you need an endodontist you can count on. Our specialized endodontists make it their mission to restore your teeth and relieve your pain. With offices conveniently located in Pueblo and Colorado Springs, the care you need is just a phone call away. Contact us today to schedule your evaluation and start your journey toward a healthy, beautiful smile!