A Step-by-Step Guide to a Root Canal with Dr. Elkhal

So you need a root canal! You know a little about what a root canal is but wonder, what are the steps, what can I expect during the procedure? Not a worry, we are here to explain everything that way you know exactly what to expect!

Step 1: Dr. Elkhal makes sure you are comfortable in the chair! We make sure Patient comfort is our top priority!

Step 2: A little bit of topical anesthetic is placed on the area to help numb the gum before injections to ensure comfort during the injection process.

Step 3: You guessed it..here come the shots! Local anesthesia is administered via injections to numb the tooth to be treated and the surrounding tissues! Of course this is all of our favorite part, but even though shots have a bad rep our patients have praised Dr. Elkhal’s technique and gentleness through this process countless times.

Step 4: A dental dam — a thin sheet of rubber or vinyl — will be placed over the affected tooth. The tooth undergoing treatment protrudes through a hole punched in the dam, isolating it from the rest of the mouth. This allows the root canal treatment to be carried out in a sterile environment free from contamination by bacteria found in saliva or the rest of the mouth, it also prevents from anything falling down your throat

Step 5:  A small access hole is drilled through the biting surface of an affected back tooth or from behind a front tooth, allowing access to the pulp chamber and root canals for treatment.

Step 6: The diseased and dead pulp tissue is removed from the tooth with specially designed instruments used to clean out the root canals and pulp chamber. This is not painful; the area is numb and the tissue being removed is either dead or dying.

Step 7: The canals are disinfected with sodium hypochlorite, EDTA, and chlorhexadine which are antibacterial agents.

Step 8: The canals are then shaped with tiny flexible instruments to allow them to receive root canal fillings and sealers. The canals are washed and cleaned again to remove root canal debris prior to sealing them.

—-At this step if there is any continued drainage into the tooth we medicate the tooth to dry out the canals and kill off any bacteria that is remaining. We then schedule you for a finish appointment in about 3-4 weeks. At that appointment we remove the medication and proceed to steps 9-11. Or if there is no draining we proceed to step 9.

Step 9: Root canal fillings are selected that will exactly fit into the freshly prepared canals. Usually a rubber-like material called gutta-percha is used to fill the canal space. It is a thermoplastic material (“thermo” – heat; “plastic” – to shape), which literally is heated and then compressed into and against the walls of the root canals to seal them. Together with adhesive cement called a sealer, the gutta-percha fills the prepared canal space. Sealing the canals is critically important to prevent them from becoming reinfected with bacteria.

Step 10: A temporary or permanent filling material will then be placed to seal the access hole that was made to treat the canals, and the dental dam is removed. If the tooth lacks sufficient structure to hold a restoration (filling) in place, your dentist or Dr. Elkhal may place a post in one of the canals inside the tooth to help retain it.

Step 11: At this point we refer you back to your general dentist for a build up (if we did a temporary filling) or a Crown (if we did a permanent filling).

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