I've Never Had a Root Canal. What Should I Know Before My Procedure?

 I've Never Had a Root Canal. What Should I Know Before My Procedure?

Root canals may be necessary to save your tooth after it's been cracked or if you have a deep cavity or an infection. Increased tooth sensitivity, pain when chewing, a pimple-like bump on your gums, and the presence of deep decay are a few signs you might benefit from a root canal.

Root canals are a common dental procedure 一 one that Dr. Kenneth Higgins and our experienced team perform here at IDTC Dental Center in Grand Prairie, Texas. 

In this article, Dr. Higgins shares more details about what a root canal is and what you can expect during yours.

What exactly is a root canal?

Root canals are also known as root canal treatment or root canal therapy. If bacteria enter your tooth, whether through a crack or from decay, infections can spread easily in the pulp of your tooth and in your root canals. The primary benefits of receiving a root canal are treating an infection, removing infected and/or decayed material, and eliminating the painful symptoms associated with infections, but to achieve these goals, Dr. Higgins must first eliminate bacteria from the infected root canal and prevent reinfection of the tooth.

What to expect before, during, and after your procedure 

If you’ve never had a root canal, you might wonder what the procedure is like and how it compares to a regular filling. Below, we share the steps you can anticipate during your root canal: 

  1. Dr. Higgins takes x-rays and examines these images to confirm that a root canal is the best course of action for you.
  2. You’ll receive a local anesthetic to keep you comfortable.
  3. A rubber sheet (called a rubber dam) keeps the treatment area clean and dry.
  4. Any infected pulp material is removed with special instruments.
  5. The inside of your tooth is cleaned and rinsed with a special wash that kills bacteria (which stops the spread of the infection).
  6. Gutta-percha, a rubber-like material, is used to fill in your tooth roots.
  7. A temporary filling seals your tooth.

Unlike a regular filling, a root canal requires two appointments. During your second appointment, Dr. Higgins ensures that your infection has cleared. If you need a dental crown, you’ll receive a custom dental cap that protects your tooth. Because root canals can weaken your tooth, a crown ensures that your tooth remains protected. 

Pain management

According to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), root canals have a bad reputation for being painful, but this is a common misconception. Root canals treat the underlying infections that cause tooth pain.

During your procedure, a local anesthetic keeps you comfortable. The procedure should feel similar to getting a filling. After your procedure, you may feel a little sore when the anesthetic wears off. This discomfort is temporary, but cold compresses can ease any residual discomfort. 

You can further support your recovery by taking any prescribed antibiotics as directed. 


The most important thing to know about a root canal is that a root canal can preserve your tooth and avoid the need for an extraction. Extracting a tooth is necessary at times, but that can increase your risk of bone atrophy as well as your teeth shifting into the gap. Root canals save your natural tooth, and in turn, protect you from the dangers of bone atrophy and shifting teeth.

If you’re apprehensive about your upcoming root canal, don’t hesitate to let us know. Sometimes just learning more about the procedure can ease anxiety about it. If you suspect you have an infection or need a root canal, call Dr. Higgins at 972-362-2375. You can also book your appointment with our online scheduling tool.

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