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Need a Root Canal? Here is a Step-by-Step Treatment Guide

A natural tooth is comprised of the outer white enamel, the middle hard layer called dentin, and the innermost soft tissue known as the pulp. This innermost pulp tissue is housed within the roots (bottom half) of teeth and contains blood vessels, connective tissue, and nerves. This tissue initially aids in the development of the tooth by supplying nutrients and maintaining blood flow.

Throughout our lives, our teeth can get infected with cavities caused by bacteria (sugar bugs) that damage and put holes in our teeth. The acid byproducts of these sugar bugs can erode a hole all the way through the outer and middle layers of teeth, exposing the pulp tissue within the tooth root. When bacteria have direct access to contaminate the pulp, serious infection can occur. Such a condition can become extremely painful and requires immediate treatment.

What is a Root Canal?

During root canal treatment, dentists clean, disinfect, and seal the root canal space where the pulp tissue resides. Once this is completed, the root canal space is sealed from end to end in order to prevent the tooth from becoming infected again. A successful root canal saves your natural tooth, allowing it to be restored and function as normal again

What’s the procedure of a Root Canal Treatment?

It takes about 30 to 90 minutes to perform a root canal, depending on which tooth requires the treatment. Teeth in the back of the mouth typically take longer to treat than teeth towards the front of the mouth. The entire process is painless and extremely effective in the long term.


A Root Canal treatment may have the following steps:

  • The dental assistant takes an X-ray of the infected tooth.
  • The dentist will numb the mouth and cover the infected tooth with a protective barrier called a dental dam. This is used to block the entry of saliva during the process.
  • The dentist makes a minute entry through the crown and cleans the infected pulp with the help of specialized instruments and disinfectants.
  • After cleaning out the infected pulp, the dentist shapes the root and fills the tooth with a biocompatible material called gutta-percha. This process seals the tooth from end to end and prevents bacteria from reinfecting the root canal space.
  • To finish the procedure, a temporary filling material is placed on the tooth to fill the space created for access to the pulp tissue. The temporary filling is kept in place until the tooth can be restored with a porcelain or metal crown. The crown is permanently cemented onto the tooth and acts like a helmet to prevent the tooth from breaking after the root canal treatment. The shape and feel of the crown will be the same as the natural teeth.

The modern root canal procedure is the least painful and most effective method for eliminating pulpal infection in order to save a natural tooth.

It is quite similar to a routine filling and typically requires one or two appointments. After the procedure, when the numbness from the anesthetic wears off, you will return back to your normal chewing function.

How long and painful is the root canal procedure?

With the advancement in restorative dentistry in Chandler, we offer a root canal procedure that only takes about 30 to 90 minutes, depending on the number of roots on the tooth. You can simply resume work in just 2-4 hours after the treatment. Rest assured, the procedure is completely painless after the local anesthetic is administered.


Is the Root Canal procedure safe and effective?

Root canal treatment is absolutely safe and can prevent you from needing to go to the emergency room with a life-threatening dental infection. The procedure is considered the “standard of care” by the American Dental Association for treating teeth with pulpal infection. There has been a recent misconception that root canal treatment can negatively affect one’s health. These claims are dangerous for the public and are not supported by sound scientific evidence.

“When a patient comes in with a hot tooth, our number one goal is to save their natural tooth…and root canal treatment is often the best and only way to achieve that.” says Dr. Silverman.

Written by Dr. Silverman

Dr. Silverman is the co-founder of Peace of Mind Dental, a Chandler Arizona, general dentistry practice.