Root Canals / Endodontic Procedure

We are proud to offer our patients the latest in root canal therapy. A root canal is a procedure that extracts decayed pulp from the central part of the tooth, reshapes the canal and replaces it with strengthened filler. There are a number of reasons a root canal may be necessary, including dental injuries, severe decay and infection or inflammation in the tooth pulp – the soft, living tissue inside each tooth. When left untreated, these problems can lead to severe tooth decay reaching the root of the tooth, causing extensive damage to the tooth structure. When the damage goes beyond what can be treated with a filling, we can perform a root canal to preserve the tooth and retain its original integrity.  In some cases, an Endodontic Re-Treatment or Endodontic Surgery may be required.

What follows are basic pre- and post-operative instructions so that your root canal operation will go as smoothly and comfortably as possible, as well as a basic explanation of the root canal operation. If you have any questions about your upcoming endodontic procedure, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Before the Procedure

  • Arrange to have someone take you home after the procedure if you feel you will need it or if our office recommends it.
  • Be sure not to take any aspirin for at least 10 days prior to your procedure. If you have are prescribed regular aspiring use, consult with our office.
  • Before your procedure, you may take an analgesic like Motrin or Alleve to help minimize discomfort.
  • Do not smoke for at least 12 hours before your procedure.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing on the day of the procedure. Keep in mind that we may need to roll up a sleeve to monitor your blood pressure.

During the Procedure

  1. During a normal endodontic procedure, the doctor will examine the tooth and surrounding areas, both visually and with radiographs (X-rays).
  2. Once the treatment is decided upon, the tooth will be numbed with local anesthetic and a dental dam placed over the area to protect the area and keep it clean and dry.
  3. An opening is made in the tooth and the pulp – the living tissue in the center of the tooth – is removed from the pulp chamber and root canals. The root canals are also shaped to better prepare them for the next steps.
  4. After the pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is clean and ready, the doctor will fill the canals with a biocompatible thermoplastic.
  5. After the canals and pulp chamber are filled, the doctor will seal the tooth and place a temporary filling over the seal, to prevent the filling from becoming infected while a permanent crown is created. A permanent restoration will need to be placed afterwards. When and how this will happen may vary, and should be coordinated between our office and your general dentist.

After the Procedure

  • You should expect some soreness, discomfort and minor swelling for up to two days after the procedure. This should subside naturally.
  • You should be able to return to normal activities like working and driving the day after the procedure.
  • If you are prescribed medication, be sure to take it exactly as prescribed.
  • Do not eat anything until the numbness in your mouth has subsided. Do not eat on the side of the mouth that has had a root canal until a permanent restoration can be put in, and only eat soft foods for at least the first day after your procedure.
  • For discomfort, you can take aspirin or acetaminophen (Tylenol) as recommended if you need to. If this is insufficient, you can take pain medicine as prescribed by our office. Warm salt water rinses will also help alleviate discomfort: simply dissolve a teaspoon of salt into warm water and rinse. You may use this rinse as often as you want.
  • Be sure to continue brushing and flossing as normal, but be very careful when brushing around the area that has had a root canal.
  • If you experience any problems, swelling or allergic reactions, contact our office immediately.