What You Need to Know Before Getting a Root Canal

What You Need to Know Before Getting a Root Canal

A root canal is a necessary therapeutic dental procedure for removing infected or damaged tooth tissue and preventing the spread of infection. While this common procedure makes many patients nervous, the actual operation is virtually painless and is often completed in as little as 30 minutes.

We find that the more information we provide our patients before a root canal, the more stress-free the operation is for them. This article covers what to expect from your root canal, from preparation to aftercare.

How to Prepare for Your Root Canal

A root canal is a straightforward outpatient procedure often performed in under an hour. While doctors don’t require any preparation ahead of time, there are a few things you can do to make your root canal as stress-free and painless as possible.

Eat Before the Procedure

During your root canal, your doctor will use an anesthetic to numb your mouth. While this does wonders for minimizing discomfort, it can make eating and drinking afterward a real challenge. That’s why we recommend grabbing a bite to eat before your appointment.


To increase recovery time and reduce stress, get a good night’s sleep the night before your procedure.

Take a Pain Reliever

Pain relievers like ibuprofen or Tylenol reduce swelling and help prevent inflammation. Many endodontists recommend taking the recommended dosage of your preferred pain reliever a couple of hours before the procedure.

What to Expect During Your Root Canal

It typically takes at least two visits to complete a root canal treatment: one to perform the actual root canal and another to check the tooth before sealing it off with a dental restoration. We break down this treatment into three simple steps:

Diagnosis and Treatment Planning

First, we will take an X-ray of your tooth and the surrounding tissues. This will help us find out what’s causing your toothache and determine the extent of the damage. We may prescribe you antibiotics if there is an infection. Treating the infection in advance can reduce the swelling and pressure inside your tooth, and this can help make your root canal procedure much more comfortable.

Preparing the Tooth

Next, we’ll numb the area around your tooth with a local anesthetic so that you can rest comfortably during your root canal treatment. Once your tooth is numb, the dentist will drill a small hole into your tooth. The dentist will insert slim instruments into this access hole to remove the pulp, bacteria, and other debris from your tooth and then sterilize the inside.

Sealing the Tooth

By the end of your root canal appointment, you will already feel some relief from your tooth pain. Your dentist may place a medicated layer inside your cleansed tooth to prevent a recurring infection. If possible, your tooth will be sealed up that day and then we may call you back in to get it fitted for a dental crown. If your tooth requires multiple visits, then the dentist will place a temporary filling to protect your tooth until your next appointment when it is checked and then permanently sealed.

Root Canal Aftercare

While your tooth will feel much better after your root canal, you can still expect some mild discomfort and tenderness as the anesthetic wears off. Your endodontist may prescribe pain relievers to help manage the discomfort.

Avoid eating until the anesthetic wears off. If you’ve received a temporary crown, avoid biting down too hard on the area until your next appointment to place your permanent crown.

It’s also essential to practice proper dental hygiene to keep the affected area clean and prevent possible re-infection. We strongly encourage daily brushing, flossing, and rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash.

Tomken Dental - Mississauga

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