Do root canals involve drills?

Usually they do. The drill is used to get access to the nerve and or remove the decay that is in the way.

Some dentists use a drill that has the file ("canal cleaning attachment") attached. This is usually rotated slowly (and gently) to avoid breaking the instrument in the canal.

As long as you are numb (or the tooth has no feeling left because the nerve has already died) then this experience should be painless.
Stanislav Moline
Just for a short time in the beginning to gain access to the inside of the tooth. When properly "numbed", there is no discomfort.

Read more at:
  • on official website of American Association of Endodontists
Read also more at:
  • on my website.

A root canal is very similar to having a tooth filled. With a root canal the bottom part of the tooth called the root is filled. Your tooth will be numbed to make the procedure comfortable, and a dental handpiece will be used to access the diseased part of the tooth and clean it out. A filling will be placed in this area. See your dentist if you think you need a root canal.

Generally, for a root canal, a drill is used to remove and clean the infected part of the tooth and to gain access to the pulp (nerves and blood vessels) of the tooth. After gaining access, the pulp is removed with hand files and the canal can be prepared with rotary instrumentation. 

An access opening must be made to reach the pulp area of the tooth in order to perform root canal therapy. A high speed dental handpiece using a water-cooled rotating bur is used to accomplish this access.

The actual root canal treatment is performed using a series of specially shaped and sized files to clean and shape the canals in the tooth. Often this is done with hand instruments initially, and then rotary files in an endodontic handpiece that rotates at slow speed. This allows the treatment to be accomplished in a careful and efficient manner for maximum patient comfort.

Once a canal is cleaned and shaped, it is then filled with an inert material like gutta percha to seal it. The tooth then must be restored. If not, excellent endodontic therapy will ultimately fail, the tooth will decay to a point of being non-restorable and the tooth may have to be extracted.
Yes, a root canal does require a drill in the beginning. This is because we need an opening big enough to remove/replace the inside diseased pulp, and fill the canals. It's the only way we can do such. So a root canal will typically start with your dentist getting you numb, because the drill is imminent.
Divyang Patel

Root canal is treated by various methods which do include removal of the decayed part of the tooth and preparing an access to the nerve chamber of the tooth being treated and up to this part of treatment a drill is generally used. After this time a dentist can use hand instruments to finish the treatment or may use instruments in the drill to clean the root part of the tooth.

A root canal treatment generally involves the removal and replacement of a tooth’s pulp. The pulp is soft tissue containing blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue. When the pulp is diseased or injured, the pulp tissue dies. If you don't remove it, your tooth gets infected and you could lose it. During a root canal, the dentist uses a drill to make an opening in the crown of the tooth so that the pulp can be removed and the root canal cleaned. The dentist then places medication into the pulp chamber to keep it safe from infection. 

A small dental drill is used in the initial stages of a root canal. The drill is used to open up access to the pulp chamber inside of the tooth. After the drill is used to make an opening, specialized files and dental tools are employed to scrape and clear away infected tissue.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.