Your teeth need to be healthy to last you your lifetime, so dental patients know that regular visits to the dentist and good oral hygiene habits go a long way in helping accomplish this.  If your teeth or a tooth become injured or diseased a root canal may be suggested to save them.  A root canal is a dental procedure that attempts to remove the infected dental pulp from the canal.  We will explain further what a root canal is below.  And, we will explain why a root canal is sometimes needed and the aftercare process, specifically whether or not you can drive home after a root canal.  

A Root Canal Explained

As mentioned above, if a tooth or teeth become injured or diseased, a root canal may be suggested to save them.  Also, a tooth may look like one solid piece, but teeth have many layers.  The two main parts of a tooth are the root and the crown.  The crown is the top piece that you can see, and the root is part of the tooth below the gum line that goes into the jaw bone.  The crown of the tooth also contains the pulp chamber, which goes to the tip of the root in what is called the root canal.  There may be more than one root canal in each root.  Root canals contain the dental pulp, which is made up of blood vessels and nerves, and they extend all the way to the tip of each root.  Sometimes, the pulp becomes infected and that is when a root canal may be suggested.  Root canal therapy is a dental procedure that attempts to remove the inflamed dental pulp from the canal.  

Root Canal Therapy: What Are the Steps to the Procedure?

If you do have a root canal scheduled, here are the general steps of root canal therapy, so that you know what will happen.  

  1. First, your tooth or teeth are numbed to make you more comfortable.  After that, a dental dam is placed over the area to keep it dry.  
  2. Next, an opening is made through the crown of the tooth or teeth into the pulp chamber.  After the pulp is removed, the canal of each root is cleaned and disinfected.  
  3. The root canals that have been treated then get filled with a rubber-like material to seal them shut.
  4. Then, temporary fillings are placed in the tooth or teeth.  This helps prevent infection.
  5. The temporary filling is removed and a permanent crown is placed to recover its function. This last step may happen at a later date after you have healed somewhat from the procedure. 


After your root canal, you may experience mild pain or discomfort, and this can be controlled with over-the-counter medication.  If you haven’t had any problems driving home after a filling you should be ok to drive a car safely to get home.  Root canals offer a numbing agent for pain, but no sedation.   So, as long as no IV sedation was used, you should be fine to drive home by yourself.  Also, try to avoid biting down or chewing with the affected tooth or teeth until you receive a fully restored crown.  

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