A root canal procedure entails drilling through the tooth enamel and using files to dig and scrape out all the pulp and nerve tissue inside the tooth, explains WebMD. These files are used in a series of progressively larger sizes and worked to the tips of the roots to ensure removal of all the tissue. Afterward, the tooth is filled with a rubbery reinforcing compound and then covered with a filling or crown.
A root canal requires observation and planning beforehand, states WebMD. Images from X-rays are used to detect any infections in the bone surrounding the tooth, as well as the shape of the roots. The area must be free of saliva during the procedure, so a sheet of rubber is placed in the mouth to keep the tooth dry. As the pulp and nerve tissue is scraped from the inside of the tooth, a liquid is periodically pumped in to wash out any debris.
The filling materials may be placed directly after the root canal procedure, or there may be a delay, according to WebMD. If there is an infection in the tooth or surrounding tissues, the tooth may first be filled with a medication until it is cured.