Answers to Questions About the Root Canal Process


A root canal is a dental procedure used to restore a severely damaged or decayed tooth. A dentist may perform a root canal or refer the patient to a specialist called an endodontist whose practice consists primarily of root canals. The process involves removing the infected pulp from the tooth and refilling the empty space with a biocompatible material called gutta-percha. A root canal is a delicate procedure, and tools are kept in working order with dental handpiece repair kits.

1. How Many Visits Are Required for a Root Canal?

The initial root canal procedure takes about 90 minutes to complete. It involves drilling into the tooth and removing the infected pulp. The second visit involves cleaning out the canal and placing filling material. It is possible that a crown may be placed at this visit, or it may require a third visit.

Not all root canals require crowns. If this is the case, fewer visits may be necessary. Crowns are typically applied to strengthen teeth that are weakened by the procedure. The teeth used for chewing in the back are most likely to require crowns, although front teeth may as well.

2. What Kind of Anesthetic Is Used?

Under certain circumstances, a dentist or endodontist may use general anesthesia for a root canal. However, it is more common to use a local anesthetic. This offers several advantages in that you can eat before the procedure and you do not have to make arrangements to have someone else drive you home.

3. What Should You Do After a Root Canal?

Oral hygiene is important after any dental procedure. The recommendation to brush your teeth twice a day still applies after a root canal. However, you should be careful around the affected tooth and avoid any foods that are particularly chewy or hard.

The dentist or endodontist who performs the procedure will give you more specific instructions regarding what you should and shouldn’t do after each point in the process. Be sure to follow these instructions carefully.

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