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What It’s Like to Have a Root Canal Procedure

While some may find the thought of needing root canal therapy unnerving, the reality is that in most cases there’s nothing to fear. Modern technology has made this a more efficient and effective procedure—one that “root-inely” saves patients’ teeth.

Root canal therapy removes the tissue from the root canal system of a tooth if it becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection could be caused by deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, a crack or chip in the tooth or an injury to the tooth (even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks.)* If left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.*

root canal procedureCompletion of a root canal procedure typically involves two or more appointments. Your dentist or endodontist usually prepares and cleans the root canal system during the first visit, then a crown is placed at the final visit. If the dentist or endodontist is using standard root canal therapy and you have a complex root canal system, they may schedule multiple cleaning appointments to ensure the canals are properly cleaned and disinfected. If they offer the GentleWave Procedure, cleaning and disinfecting typically require only one visit4, even in the case of a complex root canal system.

While every patient and every root canal procedure is different, here are the basic steps involved in root canal therapy:

The Preparation

The first step in a root canal procedure is for the dentist or endodontist to examine and x-ray the tooth. This will help show the extent of any infection and reveal the shape and position of the roots and canals. In the case of molars and premolars—which may have complex root canal systems—finding and cleaning all the canals is critical to preventing reinfection.

Next, they’ll typically administer a local anesthetic to numb the tooth and the area around it. Then they’ll place a small protective sheet called a “dental dam” over the area to isolate the tooth and keep it clean and free from saliva (which can harbor bacteria) during the procedure.*

The Procedure

When the anesthetic has taken effect, an access opening will be prepared in the tooth. Then the tooth’s pulp, along with the bacteria and decayed nerve tissue, are removed.** With standard root canal treatment, the dentist or endodontist will use a series of files to scrape and scrub the inside of the canals. Then fluids are used to flush away the debris.**

But if the GentleWave System is used, the process of removing the tissue and debris is significantly different. The GentleWave System uses advanced fluid dynamics2 to create a vortex of procedure fluids that travel throughout the root canal system.1 Along the way, broad spectrum acoustic energy helps remove the tissue and debris that cause infection.2 Unlike standard root canal treatment, the GentleWave Procedure is minimally invasive1 and can require fewer files,2 yet is able to reach even the microscopic areas1,2 that standard root canal treatments frequently cannot.3

If the root canal procedure is not finished on the same day and requires multiple visits, it is usually sealed with a temporary filling to keep out contaminants.** Medication is sometimes put into the pulp chamber and root canal system to help clear any infection*** between visits. If you had a temporary filling placed, that will be removed to allow access to the inside of the tooth*** at a future visit. With the GentleWave Procedure, however, most procedures are completed in one day.4

Once the tooth is completely cleaned, a sealer paste and rubber compound is frequently used to fill the tooth, followed by an adhesive filling to make sure the root canal system is protected from saliva.***


For the first few days following the completion of a root canal, the tooth may feel sensitive due to natural tissue inflammation, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure.** But most patients—especially those treated with the GentleWave Procedure—are quickly able to return to their normal routine, often the next day.


After your root canal procedure is completed, you’ll need to return to your dentist. The final step in the root canal procedure is placement of the crown. Depending upon the condition of the tooth, your dentist or endodontist may place a small supporting post inside the root to make the crown more stable.

How Can You Find a GentleWave® Provider?

If you need a root canal procedure, and you’re interested in this minimally invasive1 alternative to standard root canal treatment, we can help! Use our Provider Locator to find a dentist or endodontist in your area with the GentleWave System.




The GentleWave® Procedure is a medical procedure that is designed to prepare, clean and preserve the structure of teeth1,2,4 indicated for root canal therapy. Similar to other root canal treatment procedures, there is a potential risk of adverse effects. If you are considering the GentleWave Procedure, ask your clinician if you are a proper candidate. For additional information, visit

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