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Root Canal Treatment


A root canal is a procedure to remove diseased pulp from a root canal in your tooth. The pulp is tissue that contains nerves and blood vessels that fill your tooth roots. Each root secures your tooth to your gum and jawbone.


Before your procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • Medicines:
    • NSAIDs: These medicines decrease swelling and pain. You can buy NSAIDs without a doctor's order. Ask your healthcare provider which medicine is right for you, and how much to take. Take as directed. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems if not taken correctly.
    • Antibiotic medicine: This is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
  • X-ray: An x-ray of your mouth may be done to check the health of your tooth and the bone around it. An x-ray also shows your healthcare provider the shape of the tooth roots to be cleaned.
  • Local anesthesia: This medicine makes you more comfortable during your procedure. A shot of local anesthesia medicine is put into the lining of your mouth around your tooth. Local anesthesia numbs the area and dulls your pain. You may still feel pressure or pushing during the procedure after you get this medicine.

During your procedure:

  • You will sit or lie back in a dental chair. You will receive a shot of local anesthesia (numbing medicine) around your tooth. If you have a filling or other dental device on your tooth, your healthcare provider will remove it. A rubber sheet will be put around your tooth to separate your tooth from the rest of your mouth. The rubber sheet helps prevent saliva from entering the root canal. It also helps prevent you from breathing in or swallowing liquids or small tooth pieces. Your healthcare provider may remove the crown on your tooth with a dental drill. He may also drill a hole in the crown to reach the pulp and root canal.
  • Your healthcare provider will remove the diseased pulp from the tooth. An x-ray picture may be taken. Your healthcare provider will clean any remaining diseased pulp from the root canal using dental tools and cleaning fluids. Once all of the pulp is removed, your healthcare provider will clean the open root canal with germ-killing liquid. The root canal will be dried and a filling will be put inside your tooth root. Your healthcare provider will cover your tooth with a temporary or permanent crown. If there is swelling in the root canal, your healthcare provider may fill the root with a steroid paste. The paste helps decrease swelling. If a temporary crown is used, your healthcare provider will replace it with a permanent crown about 1 week later.

After your procedure:

Ask your healthcare provider when you can eat and drink again. Ask about any special instructions for caring for your tooth after a root canal. Find out when to return to complete your procedure or for a follow-up visit.


  • The cleaning fluid used to clean the root may enter nearby tissues and cause swelling, bruising, or an infection. The tip of a dental tool may get stuck in your root canal, or you may swallow the tip if it drops into your mouth. You may get a fistula (abnormal tissue opening) between your tooth root and your sinus. The tissue may not be completely removed, the root may not be completely filled, or the seal may not be tight. This means germs could enter your tooth and cause an infection. After your procedure, you may have pain, swelling, or damage to your tooth. You may need another root canal, or your tooth may need to be removed.
  • If you do not have a root canal, your symptoms may get worse. The pain may make it hard for you to bite down with your tooth. Your infection may spread into the tissues around your tooth and create an abscess. The infection may cause the bone around your tooth to break down. You may need to have your tooth removed.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Root Canal Treatment (Inpatient Care)

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