What is involved in a Root Canal Treatment?

woman going through the process of a root canal treatment

A root canal treatment is a dental procedure performed to save a tooth that is severely decayed, infected, or injured. It is crucial for saving a tooth that would otherwise need to be extracted. By removing the infected pulp and treating the underlying infection, the procedure not only alleviates pain and discomfort but also preserves the natural tooth structure.

Read on to find out what is involved in a root canal treatment, the potential causes, and what to expect.

The anatomy of a tooth

It’s best to start with the basics. A tooth is composed of various layers, each playing a vital role in tooth health and function. 

  • Enamel is the outermost layer of the tooth and is the hardest substance in the human body. 
  • Beneath the enamel lies the dentin, a head and calcified tissue. This is softer than enamel but still provides structural support to the tooth. This is what is responsible for the colour of our teeth and helps to cushion the pulp.
  • The pulp is the innermost layer of the tooth. It supplies nutrients and moisture to the surrounding dentin, and provides our sensitivity to temperature and pain.
  • The root canal refers to the hollow space within the roots of the tooth. It contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue and allows the bloody supply and nerves to reach the pulp. 

The step by step of a root canal treatment

woman in dentists chair receiving dental treatment

Initial consultation and examination

During your consultation, we will discuss the symptoms you are having and take a few x-rays if we feel it is necessary. By taking x-rays, we can identify the infected area, and have you back to full health in no time.

Anaesthesia and isolation

Local anaesthesia is administered to numb the area around the affected tooth, ensuring a painless procedure. 

Accessing the pulp chamber

The dentist or endodontist will create a small access hole on the tooth’s surface, typically using a dental drill or other specialised instruments.

This access point allows them to reach the pulp chamber and root canals, where the infected or damaged pulp resides.

Cleaning and shaping the root canals

Your dentist will then carefully clean the pulp chamber and root canals. Specialised dental ​​files are inserted into the canals and are gently manoeuvred to remove the infected or damaged pulp tissue. 

During this process, irrigation with antimicrobial solutions may be performed. The irrigating solution helps flush out debris, bacteria, and remaining pulp tissue from the canals. It aids in disinfection and promotes a clean environment within the root canal system.

Temporary filling

A temporary filling material is used to seal the access hole temporarily. This filling protects the tooth between appointments and prevents recontamination of the canals. The temporary filling is designed to be easily removable during the subsequent appointment when the final filling and restoration are performed.

Final restoration

This is where the temporary filling is removed. Each case is unique, so the timeline can vary based on individual circumstances of how long this will be following when the temporary filling was placed. 

The cleaned and disinfected root canals are filled with a biocompatible material called gutta-percha. Gutta-percha is a rubbery material that is heated and compacted into the canals, sealing them completely. It acts as a barrier, preventing bacteria from re-entering the root canal system.

In most cases, a dental filling or dental crown is placed over the tooth to restore its strength, functionality, and appearance.

woman smiling after having dental treatment

When is root canal treatment necessary?

In general, root canal treatment is necessary when the pulp becomes infected or damaged. 

Several scenarios may require root canal treatment, including severe tooth decay, a dental abscess, cracked or fractured teeth, traumatic injuries, repeated dental procedures, and prolonged sensitivity. 

If you experience any symptoms or suspect you may require root canal treatment, it’s essential to consult with a dentist or endodontist for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

With qualified dental practitioners at our dental clinic in Altrincham, Regent Dental Centre can establish and complete root canal treatments to relieve any pain you may be encountering. Get in touch today  



Website last updated: April 2024

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