Dentist Digest Monthly: Can I Be Asleep for A Root Canal?


Root canals are a common dental procedure. Typically, the reason you may need a root canal is to preserve a dead tooth. By the time a root canal is necessary, the tooth in question is already beyond saving. While the tooth may be dead, it’s still beneficial to keep it because it offers you the structure of the tooth needed to chew your food and speak properly.

Root canals, like any dental procedure, can make patients nervous. You are probably concerned about the pain and have a genuine fear about what’s happening inside your mouth as you sit in the dental chair. Many of our patients do ask about being put to sleep for a root canal.

Let’s explore what to expect from a root canal procedure and if you can be put to sleep.

Root Canal Procedures

A root canal has six specific steps as performed by Bridge Creek Dental. The entire procedure can be lengthy depending on the damage and will require your mouth to be open for an extended time. Here are the six standard steps we take during a procedure.

First, the dentist will drill through the top of the tooth until the inner chamber is accessible. Next, the infected tissue is removed from the tooth and the pulp chamber is cleaned to ensure all infection is gone. Then, a sterile dental material, gutta-percha, is injected into the canals. This will prohibit any new infection and support the tooth. During this part, a post may be added for additional support. The fourth step is to apply a sealant to fill the hole caused by the drilling. Finally, a temporary crown is on the tooth until the permanent crown is created. You will then come back to the office for your follow-up where the permanent crown will be applied. The new crown is cemented over the reshaped tooth.

Anesthetic is used to numb the mouth and gums prior to the procedure. After the procedure, it’s normal to have pain and soreness. Beyond just an anesthetic, there are ways to make the process less painful and scary with sedation dentistry.

Sedation Dentistry for Root Canals

There are different kinds of sedation dentistry to consider during a root canal or any other dental procedure, especially for those who have anxiety about visiting the dentist or have a low pain threshold. At Bridge Creek Dental, we can offer you several ways to be sedated, some of which you would actually be awake for, while others render you asleep.

  • Minimal sedation: you’ll feel relaxed but still be awake and is typically provided using nitrous oxide gas
  • Moderate sedation: you’ll likely not remember the procedure but still be awake and is delivered via oral medication, such as Valium
  • Deep sedation: you won’t have a memory of the procedure, but you will still be aware of your surroundings. This type of sedation is usually done via an IV.
  • General anesthesia: with anesthesia, an anesthesiologist will put you to sleep for the entire procedure

Is Sedation Dentistry Right for You?

Determining what level of sedation is right for you should be discussed with your dentist. Be sure to let your dentist know about your anxiety, pain tolerance, and if you have ever had an adverse reaction to sedation.

Our dental clinic has performed many successful root canals with a variety of sedation methods. Contact us today to schedule your appointment and get back to a happy, healthy mouth.

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