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Root Canal Procedure Explained

March 28, 2014

A root canal procedure is also called an endodontic treatment. “Endo” is the Greek word for “inside” and “odont” means “tooth”. An endodontic treatment literally means “inside tooth” treatment. Ever wondered how a root canal treatment works? You're not alone. We get a lot of questions about what goes on a root canal procedure, but for you to understand what goes on in a root canal procedure, you need to understand certain parts of the tooth.

Inside the tooth, under the enamel (the white part or crown of the tooth that is visible and above the gum line) and a hard layer (dentin) is a soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp has all the blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue and extends from the crown to the tip of the roots where it connects to tissue surrounding the root. The pulp is very important during the growth and development of teeth. Once teeth are grown and fully mature, it can survive without the pulp because they get nourishment from the tissues surrounding them.


A root canal procedure is needed when the pulp gets infected. It can be because of deep decay, cracks in the crown or repeated dental procedures. Once it's determined the infection is inside the tooth and the pulp is involved, the dentist will try to save the tooth by doing a root canal procedure. Instead of extracting the tooth and give you a long-term problem of gaps between teeth and tooth replacements, he will drain the tooth of the infected pulp and then fills the emptied space with biocompatible materials and seals it again. He will then restore the tooth with a crown to protect it.


The following procedure is from the American Association of Endodontists’ web site. You can also watch a video explaining how it is done.

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

  1. The endodontist examines and x-rays the tooth, 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.
  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.
  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.
  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.

Indianapolis Dentistry Clinic is an Oral Surgery Center

Indianapolis Dentistry, led by Dr. Ted Reese, offers not only traditional oral surgery procedures, tooth extractions, and surgical removal of wisdom teeth, but also offers oral and dental surgery not offered in most oral surgery clinics. Dr. Reese’s over 25 years of experience will provide you with as uneventful a surgical experience as possible.

From correct diagnosis of your tooth problem to corresponding treatment, Dr. Reese will help you preserve your teeth and recommend the best treatment option for you. Whether you need endodontic surgery or tooth extraction, Dr. Reese and his qualified and able staff will keep you as comfortable as possible. Call 317-882-0228 for an appointment.