Depending on the number of teeth and severity affected, root canals usually require one to three visits not including any follow-up visits. Your dentist or Endodontist will numb the area around the affected tooth, or may offer you the option of mild sedation. A rubber dental dam is placed and the tooth is then drilled to the pulp area either through the top or the back of the tooth. The actual root canals are measured after some of the pulp has been removed. This is done so that the dentist can clean the entire canal, and so that enough of the filling material will be used to completely fill the canal. The actual measuring is done with either x-rays or electronic imaging devices.
All of the diseased pulp in the tooth is removed, and the canal is cleaned out thoroughly with an antiseptic solution. This solution will clean all of the canals within the tooth. The canals are then filled with gutta percha, a flexible plastic material. A temporary filling is then put on top of that. A crown or permanent filling will be done after there has been no sign of infection. Crowns are most common since the root canal procedure weakens the tooth. The crown is usually placed as soon as possible, within a month or less.
Expect two to three days of soreness after the procedure, or longer if the infection in the root canal was severe.
Pain is always associated with root canals, but there should actually be little to no pain during the procedure. The procedure is not for cosmetics, but rather your health. The infection will only get worse with time if left untreated. The root canal procedure is successful over 92 percent of the time. The biggest advantage is that the tooth will not need to be extracted in the future.
Not often, but sometimes infected tissue is pushed through the ends of the root, which will infect the gum. This is easily treated, but is also painful until the infection is cleared up. Canals are irregularly shaped, and if the canal is not accurately measured or branches of the canal were not discovered, it cannot be completely cleaned or filled requiring the procedure to be done again when this area becomes infected.