Some people get so worked up over being nervous about root canals that they don't actually learn what goes on during them. But knowing what happens might help you to feel calmer and safer about the process than if you go in blind. So if you don't know what happens during a root canal, then here's an answer to your question.
There are two main parts to a root canal: drilling and filling. In this way, it's a very similar procedure to what you could expect if you were having a simple cavity taken care of.
The first step is to drill the tooth in order to access the damaged portion of the tooth. This is done under local anesthesia so you won't feel anything, not even pressure.
Once your dentist has access to the interior part of the tooth, they'll use a minuscule drill bit to start going to work on the inside of the tooth. This is what separates a root canal from a simple cavity filling. While only the cavity itself is removed during normal drilling, with a root canal, the interior pulp of the tooth is removed. This is to ensure that any rotten parts of the pulp don't become infected and cause damage to the rest of the tooth, as well as preventing further pain by removing the nerves of the tooth.
Keep in mind that this process will all be done on the inside of the tooth, so it won't impact the appearance of the tooth at all.
Once the tooth has been completely drilled, your dentist will apply a filling first to the inside of the tooth. The filling will take up the space where the pulp used to be, ensuring that the entire tooth stays strong and can be used as a normal tooth would.
Once the interior is filled, the exterior access point will also be filled, much like a cavity.
Depending on the tooth's strength and how bad the damage was before the procedure, you may or may not need a crown to cover the tooth. This will ultimately be up to your dentist, so feel free to ask.
Once the tooth has been drilled, filled, and possibly capped with a crown, you're all done. That's really all there is to a root canal, and it's not something you need to be panicked over. Your dentist will do a fine job of preserving your tooth while ensuring that you don't feel any discomfort.
To learn more about getting a root canal, reach out to a dentist near you.