Having an infection or inflammation in the pulp of your tooth (the soft center of your tooth comprising nerves and soft tissue) may mean you have to undergo a root canal procedure. If left unaddressed, the problem may lead to a painful tooth, an abscessed tooth, and eventual tooth loss.

If your dentist has confirmed that you have an infected or inflamed pulp and recommended you get a root canal, you might want to know how the procedure is done to avoid surprises when you visit the dental office.

1. Administering a Local Anesthetic

Having an infected or inflamed pulp can be an excruciatingly painful experience, so you may want to know if getting a root canal will make your pain even worse. To help prevent the pain and keep you comfortable during a root canal treatment, your dentist will use a local anesthetic before doing the dental procedure.

A local anesthetic is any drug or medication that is applied to a specific area of the body to create a numbing effect or alleviate pain during a surgical procedure. In the context of getting a root canal, your dentist will rub a small amount of numbing medication on the gum of the problematic tooth.

Once the area starts to feel numb, they'll inject a local anesthetic into the gums. This should ensure a painless procedure without putting you to sleep.

2. Removing the Damaged Pulp

Once the local anesthetic has taken effect, your dentist will create an opening in your tooth to reach its center: the pulp of the tooth. They will then use special instruments to carefully remove the damaged sections of the pulp and clean out the pulp chamber. They may also place medication inside the root canal to prevent an infection.

3. Filling and Sealing the Root Canal

The cleaned-out root canal is usually filled with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. The material is installed by literally heating and compressing it into the root canal space. The dentist will use a sealer in combination with gutta-percha to fill any spaces remaining between the core filling material (gutta-percha) and the walls of the root canal.

To complete your tooth restoration, your dentist may recommend you get a crown to restore the shape, size, and function of your tooth after receiving a root canal. For more information about this dental procedure, schedule an initial consultation with your preferred dentist.