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step-by-step endodontic procedure

Diagram of root canal problems

Basic procedure

You can also watch a video by the AAE that takes you through the process.

Endodontic treatment can often be performed in one or two visits and involves the following steps:

1.     The endodontist examines and takes a radiograph of the tooth using x-rays, then administers local 

         anesthetic. After the tooth is numb, the endodontist places a small protective sheet called a “dental 

         dam” over the area to isolate the tooth and keep it clean and free of saliva during the procedure.


Diagram of root canal

Accessing canal space

2.    The endodontist makes an opening in the crown of the tooth. Very small instruments are used to clean     

        the pulp from the pulp chamber and root canals and to shape the space for filling.


Diagram of root canal treatment

Temporary filling

3.     After the space is cleaned and shaped, the endodontist fills the root canals with a biocompatible      

        material, usually a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. The gutta-percha is placed with an adhesive 

        cement to ensure complete sealing of the root canals. In most cases, a temporary filling is placed to close 

        the opening. The temporary filling will be removed by your dentist before the tooth is restored.


Diagram of complete root canal

Crown or final restoration

4.      After the final visit with your endodontist, you must return to your dentist to have a crown or other 

          restoration placed on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function.


Diagram of root canal treated tooth with post & core

Post & Core

If the tooth lacks sufficient structure to hold the restoration in place, your dentist or endodontist may place a post inside the tooth. Ask your dentist or endodontist for more details about the specific restoration planned for your tooth.

Photo of toothbrushes

Post-treatment care

Follow your doctor's instructions for post-treatment care. If you have further questions, you can visit our care page or give us a call.