First, a local anaesthetic, or freezing, is given so you will be comfortable throughout the procedure. The tooth being treated is then isolated with a specialized dental dam to prevent contaminations from saliva. A hole is drilled in the tooth to gain access to the inner root canal system, and the dentist is then able to remove and clean out the infected or dead nerve tissues with tools and disinfecting solutions. After the canals have been properly shaped and cleaned, the hollow space is filled with a root filling material, and the access cavity is sealed.
After a root canal treatment, the tooth becomes more brittle and is prone to splitting in half, in which case it becomes unrestorable and must be removed. The premolars and molars are especially prone to this type of catastrophic fracture, thus it is imperative that a dental crown be placed post-root canal therapy in order to protect and restore it to full function. The crown will also create a better seal to protect the root canal systems from re-infection due to invasion of bacteria. After restoration with a crown, the root canal treated tooth may continue to function like any other tooth.
We understand that root canal is likely not your favourite dental procedure, and if you have been worried over the common expression “as painful as a root canal,” you can relax! With advances in pain management in dentistry, this expression is simply a myth. Due to its complex nature, root canal treatment can require some endurance due to the length of the treatment, but it is typically no more painful than having a common dental filling.