Preparing for a Root Canal

posted by Dr. Eric Kimball, DDS on 9/20/2023 in General

woman sitting in dental chair and smiling

For many individuals, few words evoke more fear at the dentist's office than "you need a root canal." The term root canal has a dual meaning. On one hand, it refers to the interior region of a tooth and on the other, it is a short-form name of a dental treatment.

If the mere mention of a root canal operation makes you break into a cold sweat, this comprehensive article will ease your anxiety. Learn more about this painless procedure, why you might need one, and how to prepare for it.

What is a Root Canal?

One of the most common dental procedures, a root canal extracts the infected or inflamed pulp from inside your tooth. During this operation, bacteria is removed from the physical root canal area to eliminate additional chances of infection and prevent further damage to the natural tooth. 

Depending on the type of root canal you need, a dentist or an endodontist may perform the surgery. For example, if the root canal surgery is simple and requires work on or near the front of the mouth, where there are fewer roots, it can be performed by a regular dentist. However, if the operation involves a tooth with multiple roots, an endodontist might be needed. 

When is a Root Canal Needed? 

There are many different reasons why you may need a root canal. The most common include:

To prevent requiring a root canal operation, be sure to practice good oral hygiene on a daily basis. This means brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing effectively, and using mouthwash. Also, remember to schedule and attend your dental appointments every six months. 

What to Do if You’re Scared of a Root Canal

If you’re nervous about getting a root canal, don’t be embarrassed. Let your dentist or dental staff know about your reservations. Discuss how they can make you feel more comfortable. Do you want a detailed walkthrough beforehand? Or is ignorance bliss? Most of the time the pain associated with a root canal is the actual condition of the tooth (infection, fracture, decay, etc.) not the procedure itself. 

Suppose your current dentist doesn't put you at ease, it's completely valid to seek a more compassionate dental professional. If you live in Iowa, consider scheduling a root canal with a dentist at any of our Kimball & Beecher locations across the state. Our dentists and staff are popular because they are friendly and empathetic.     

How to Prepare for a Root Canal 

Prior to the operation, you will be provided detailed instructions so you can be well prepared. For example, depending on your appointment time or the chosen sedation method, you might be advised to eat beforehand. This is because the numbing of your teeth and mouth can make it challenging to eat after the procedure. If you have any concerns about preparing for the root canal, discuss with your dentist.

What Happens During a Root Canal Procedure?

Our patients often ask: “Does a root canal hurt?” Thanks to the local anesthesia that numbs your teeth and mouth, this 30 to 60 minute surgery is virtually pain free. Administering anesthesia is the first step of a root canal. The next steps will be: 

  • Create an opening at the top of the tooth
  • Remove the inflamed or infected pulp
  • Fill the opening with biocompatible material 
  • Seal the opening with a dental crown to protect and restore the tooth to full function

What Happens After a Root Canal?

Just as you are provided with preoperative instructions, you will receive specific post-surgery guidelines. This may include the recommendation to eat only soft foods until the numbness and sensitivity subsides. Recovery time will vary for each individual, it can span a few days to a week. Some patients even return to school or work immediately after the procedure. If you continue to experience pain or discomfort after a root canal, contact your dental office immediately. 

Schedule a Root Canal With a Friendly Kimball & Beecher Dentist

Whether you’re searching for a new dentist for your family or want a compassionate dental professional for a root canal, a Kimball & Beecher dentist may be the right one for you. We're widely recognized for creating a comforting environment that helps our patients relax. Schedule an appointment to learn more about root canals and other dental procedures.

About The Author

Dr. Eric Kimball, DDS

Dr. Eric Kimball practices in our Waterloo office. Dr. Kimball was raised in Independence Iowa and graduated high school there in 1991. After high school we went onto Wartburg College where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biology in 1995. He married his high school sweetheart and now t ... read more

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