Root Canals 101: What to Expect Before, During and After

Root Canals 101: What to Expect Before, During and After

When our North York dentists perform root canals, they remove the infected inner pulp of a tooth. In this post, we explain the basics of the procedure, and what to expect during and after your appointment. 


Why might I need a root canal? 

With root canal therapy, our goal is to save a tooth with a severe internal infection. Left untreated, these teeth would otherwise have to be extracted.

If a deep cavity or traumatic injury occurs, the pulp inside a tooth may become infected with bacteria as a result. Only your dentist will be able to tell you for sure whether you need a root canal, but if you experience symptoms such as prolonged or unusual sensitivity, discolouration, swelling around the tooth or toothache pain, these may indicate you need a root canal.

What happens during a root canal procedure?

This treatment requires just two trips to the dentist’s to complete. Your dentist will start the treatment process by administering anesthesia to numb the area before creating an opening in the tooth. Specialized tools are used to remove bacteria and dead or dying tissue from the tooth’s interior.

The dentist then shapes the inner chamber and irrigates the tooth with water so any remaining diseased tissue is rinsed away. She may also apply an antimicrobial solution to eliminate any remaining bacteria and reduce the risk of further infection.

Once the chamber is thoroughly cleaned and dried, the dentist will use special medicated dental materials to fill it before closing the opening with a temporary filling. This acts as a sealant for the tooth until a permanent dental crown can be created for you.

Finally, after a few weeks, the treatment process will be completed at your dentist’s office when the dental crown is placed on the tooth to protect it from damage.

Using modern dental technology and techniques, your dentist can provide root canal therapy as a relatively comfortable treatment for an infected tooth.

What should I watch out for after my root canal treatment?

Before your procedure, your dentist should explain what to expect from the recovery process. As the numbing wears off, you will typically feel some discomfort at the site of the root canal, and some general soreness in your jaw from having your mouth open during the procedure.

Pain medication may help prevent discomfort while you heal. However, it’s important to see your dentist immediately if there are any changes or if you are experiencing these symptoms.

  • Losing the temporary crown/filling
  • Persistent or visible swelling (2 or more days)
  • Rashes, hives, or other allergic reactions to medication
  • Pain or pressure lasting more than a few days
  • Moderate to severe pain
  • Pain medication isn’t working

If you experience these symptoms after hours or you’re unable to see your dentist for an appointment, visit the emergency department of your local hospital. The sooner you receive help, the better our chances of resolving the issue and reducing any pain before your condition worsens.

How can I recover faster from a root canal?

Though recovery time varies depending on the individual, you should feel most of the pain you were experiencing before your root canal to fade quickly after the procedure - typically within 7 days, most patients should see swelling decrease and have minimal to no pain.

To speed up your recovery and prevent secondary issues, you can follow these recommendations post-procedure:

  • Avoid chewing with the tooth until after a permanent filling or crown is placed
  • Get enough sleep and rest
  • Brush and floss regularly, as normal
  • Choose soft foods that won’t require a lot of chewing
  • Monitor your health and any changes that occur

Want to learn more about what to expect during and after your root canal? Contact our North York dentists today.

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