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In the world of dentistry, there are few procedures as misunderstood as the root canal. Conjuring up images of pain and fear, many shudder at its mere mention. However, modern dentistry has transformed this procedure into a virtually painless experience, aimed at saving a tooth that might otherwise be lost. In this guide, we’ll demystify the root canal process step-by-step, so you can approach it with knowledge and confidence.


1. Why might you need a root canal?

A root canal becomes necessary when the pulp inside the tooth becomes inflamed or infected. This can be due to a deep cavity, repeated dental procedures on the same tooth, a cracked or broken tooth, or an injury that damages the pulp even if there’s no visible crack.

2. Initial Consultation

Before any procedure, your dentist will have a consultation with you. This involves taking X-rays to see the shape of the root canals and determine the extent of the infection. It also gives you the chance to ask questions and voice any concerns.

3. Local Anesthesia

To ensure you don’t feel pain during the procedure, a local anesthesia is administered to numb the tooth and surrounding area. Most patients report that this feels no different than getting a filling.

4. Placing a Dental Dam

A dental dam, which is a thin sheet of rubber or vinyl, is placed over the affected tooth. This isolates the tooth to keep it clean and free from saliva during the procedure.

5. Creating an Access Hole

The dentist will then create a small opening in the crown of the tooth to access the pulp chamber and root canals.

6. Cleaning the Root Canals

Using specialized instruments, the dentist will remove the diseased pulp, and then clean, enlarge, and shape the canals to prepare them for filling. Any bacteria, debris, and damaged tissue are also removed.

7. Filling the Canals

After cleaning and shaping, the canals are filled to prevent any further infection. A biocompatible material called gutta-percha is used. It’s placed with an adhesive cement to ensure complete sealing of the canals.

8. Rebuilding the Tooth

After the root canal, the tooth might need a crown to restore its strength and appearance. A temporary filling might be placed until the crown is ready.

9. Aftercare

After the procedure, some tenderness is normal. Over-the-counter pain medications are usually sufficient to relieve any discomfort. Most people return to their normal activities the next day.

10. Regular Dental Check-ups

It’s important to continue with regular dental check-ups to ensure the tooth heals properly. With proper care, a tooth that has had a root canal can last a lifetime.

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Debunking Root Canal Myths

It’s essential to understand that root canals are not painful – they actually relieve pain. With the advanced techniques and technologies available today, it’s comparable to a routine filling. The procedure has a high success rate, and many teeth treated this way can last a lifetime.

Another misconception is that if a tooth doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t need treatment. Not all teeth that require a root canal are painful. In some cases, the tooth nerve may already be dead, but the infection is still present, requiring treatment.

Myth 1: Root Canals Are Extremely Painful

Truth: This is probably the most widespread myth. With the advancements in dental technology and anesthesia, a root canal is no more painful than getting a regular filling. The procedure itself is designed to alleviate pain caused by an infected or inflamed pulp, not cause more.

Myth 2: It’s Better to Just Extract the Tooth

Truth: Saving your natural tooth, if possible, is always the best option. A root canal aims to do just that. While dental implants and bridges are effective solutions for missing teeth, they can never truly replicate the feel and function of a natural tooth.

Myth 3: Root Canals Cause Illness

Truth: This myth stems from research conducted over a century ago when medicine wasn’t as advanced. There is no valid scientific evidence linking root canals to diseases elsewhere in the body. In fact, root canals eliminate bacteria from the infected root and prevent further infection.

Myth 4: Root Canals Require Many Visits to The Dentist

Truth: Most root canals can be completed in one or two appointments. The number of visits depends on the complexity of the tooth’s structure and the extent of the infection.

Myth 5: Root Canaled Teeth Don’t Last Long

Truth: With proper care and a crown or filling to protect the tooth, a tooth that has undergone a root canal can last a lifetime.

Myth 6: Root Canals Are Only Needed When There’s Pain

Truth: Not all teeth that require a root canal are painful. Sometimes, the tooth nerve may already be dead due to infection, but the procedure is still necessary to prevent further complications.

Myth 7: Pregnant Women Can’t Have Root Canals

Truth: Root canals can be safely performed during pregnancy. However, your dentist might recommend postponing any non-urgent dental work until after the first trimester as a precaution.

Myth 8: The Benefits of Root Canals are Temporary

Truth: The relief from pain and the saving of your natural tooth are permanent benefits of a root canal. With proper oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups, the treated tooth can remain trouble-free for the rest of your life.


In summary, a root canal is a procedure designed to save a damaged or infected tooth. With the modern techniques available today, it’s a straightforward, painless process that can offer long-lasting results and prevent further dental complications.

Before we conclude, we’d like to give a special mention to Mirilis DDS. If you’re looking for a dental service that combines expertise with compassion, consider getting your next root canal or any other dental service at Mirilis DDS. Their team of professionals is dedicated to ensuring every patient receives top-notch care in a comfortable and supportive environment.

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