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Root Canals During COVID-19: What to Expect

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact across all of health care, including oral health—and if you’re in need of an oral health procedure, like a root canal, these changes can be overwhelming and confusing.

If you’re currently navigating these adjustments, we can help. Below we outline the changes of COVID-19 on endodontic care, as well as how you can safely manage your root canal treatment.

New Safety Protocols for Practices

Patients should be aware that all practicing dentists—for all specialties—are aligning with infection control procedures outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Dental Association (ADA).* Along with standard protocols, these practices are taking additional steps for patient safety, including:

  • Screening patients for travel history;
  • Monitoring patients for signs and symptoms of infections;
  • Implementing full contact and respiratory precautions by using gowns, gloves, face shield protection and goggles;
  • Implementing safe work practices, including keeping hands away from the face and limiting touching surfaces;
  • Frequently cleaning and disinfecting public areas, including door handles, chairs and counters, and;
  • Implementing strict social distancing protocols*

As protocols adapt to the changing healthcare landscape, you may notice some new rules in place before you even enter the practice, including requiring you to stay in your vehicle while waiting to be seen.*

It's imperative that if you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 that you reach out to your dentist or endodontist and determine appropriate next steps. You should not just go into the practice for your appointment, as you can put the practice employees and other patients at risk.

COVID-19 Practice Protocols

Make sure you confirm all new protocols with your specific practice prior to arrival to ensure you are aligning with the required safety guidelines.

Emergency Oral Health Procedures

Some patients may still be hesitant about receiving oral health care, and if the dental work won’t affect your health right now, it may be okay to delay it.**

However, for urgent oral health matters, the ADA advises that patients should work to get treatment immediately,** including in cases of:

Symptoms of Endodontic Issues
  • Serious pain;
  • Swollen areas in or around your mouth (gums, face or neck);
  • Signs of infection (pain and swelling);
  • Bleeding that won’t stop, or;
  • Broken teeth, especially if they cause pain or tissue damage**

Root canals specifically are considered emergency oral health procedures, as they can cause some of the above concerning symptoms.

In fact, some root canal symptoms you should be aware of include:

  • Severe pain while chewing or biting;
  • Pimples on the gums;
  • A chipped or cracked tooth;
  • Lingering sensitivity to hot or cold, even after the sensation has been removed;
  • Swollen or tender gums, and;
  • Deep decay or darkening of the gums***

If your dentist or endodontist believes you are at risk of needing a root canal, you should seek evaluation and treatment immediately. It’s important to not put off a root canal, as delaying treatment can lead to increased pain, infection, swelling—or even bone loss around the tooth.

Managing Your Oral Health with a Root Canal Specialist   

While both dentists and endodontists can complete root canals, endodontists obtain two or more years of specialized training beyond dental school—and are highly talented in performing oral procedures.In fact, endodontists are trained to treat urgent dental emergencies related to tooth pain and infection.*

If you’re experiencing any root canal symptoms, schedule an appointment with an endodontist first and avoid the emergency room or an urgent care center to help prevent over-burdening the health system.* An endodontist will have the necessary resources and equipment to help save your tooth.*

Your Root Canal Options

Studies have shown that smaller particles of an aerosol are thought to carry the greatest potential for transmitting infections.†† Drills from some oral procedures can create aerosols that have been confirmed by the CDC as capable of transmitting COVID-19.††† Therefore, when deciding on a root canal option, it’s recommended you choose the treatment that is most likely to help keep you and your endodontist safe.

Virtually No Aerosol Emission

Fortunately, during the use of the GentleWave® Procedure instrument, virtually no aerosols are released, reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19.*†

In addition to producing virtually no aerosol emissions*†, this root canal option offers patients several other benefits, as it:

Benefits of GentleWave
  • Thoroughly cleans and disinfects the root canal system2
  • Enables single-visit root canals4
  • Uses sterile, single-use Procedure Instruments to prevent cross-contamination
  • Allows for fast healing4
  • Minimizes postoperative patient pain4

“The GentleWave ® Procedure helps us do the best work we can do. I believe it does a better job than any other technology we have available to us at this time. In an environment where we want to minimize risk of exposure to COVID-19, it allows us to thoroughly perform irrigation within the tooth in an aerosol-free environment*† and also permits single-visit treatment to avoid having to return to the endodontist’s office a second time."

-Dr. Karen Potter | GentleWave Doctor

The GentleWave Procedure is able to provide patients with peace of mind—while enabling a more comfortable postoperative experience.4

Long-Term Oral Health Habits

Oral health has a strong impact on your overall health, and it’s especially important now to take everyday precautions to help maintain active and appropriate oral hygiene, including:

  • Washing your hands before and after brushing and flossing*
  • Brushing twice a day, including cleaning your tongue*
  • Never sharing a toothbrush*††
  • Keeping your toothbrush clean by rinsing your toothbrush with water after brushing and storing in an upright position for air drying*
  • Using mouthwash that contains fluoride*

If you’ve experienced symptoms of COVID-19, you should throw away your toothbrush immediately and replace it with a new one.*††

By incorporating the above into your oral health routine, you can help maintain efficient care—and help prevent the chance of infection.*

Find a GentleWave Doctor

Find a GentleWave® Doctor Today

If you’re in need of a root canal, the GentleWave Procedure may be the right option for you. Find a GentleWave Doctor today to schedule a consultation!





††Harrel et al; JADA, Vol 135 2004; 429-437


*†Data on File TR20-0027


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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