What Happens in a Root Canal?

If your dentist in Houston, TX, has recommended a root canal, you may be wondering what happens next. You should allow sufficient time for a root canal appointment, as these often take longer than a simple dental exam. The booking receptionist will let you know how much time to expect. When the root canal is complete, you’ll be sent home with aftercare instructions, but in general, many patients who get a root canal are able to return to work and other activities. Here’s what to expect during the root canal treatment.

Dental Exam

The first step is a dental exam, including X-rays, to determine the extent of damage and the scope of work. Local anesthesia is administered to numb the tooth and surrounding area. If you request dental sedation, that will be administered, too.

Removal of Infected Pulp

The dentist will drill down from the crown to the pulp chamber. Files and other tools will be used to remove the infected pulp and to sculpt inside the tooth to prepare for the replacement pulp material. Any decayed nerve tissue will also be removed, which will resolve any pain the patient may have been experiencing.


The empty pulp chamber will be disinfected to kill any bacteria and to reduce the risk of further infection.

Filling of the Canals

Once the canals are cleaned and shaped, they are filled and sealed with a biocompatible material, usually a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. This step prevents bacteria from re-entering the root canals.

Restoration of the Tooth

After the root canal, the tooth is weak and needs to be restored to regain its full function. A filling is placed to close the opening on the tooth’s surface. You will have your choice of filling materials, including tooth-colored resin and other materials. In some cases, a crown is also placed over the tooth to protect it from breaking in the future and to restore its natural shape and appearance. You’ll be informed at the time which restoration options you are a candidate for.

There are many reasons why you may need a root canal in Houston, TX, including an infection in the pulp, tooth trauma, or a large crack in the tooth. To book your next dental exam, please contact us today.