Below are some of the most frequently asked questions patients have about root canal treatment. If you have any other questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, we would love to hear from you.
Click on a question below to see the answer.
What is endodontics?
Endodontics is a specialty of dentistry that deals with diseases of the dental pulp (nerve) and its supporting structures.
What is an endodontist?
Endodontists are “root-canal” specialists that have attended an endodontic specialty residency after completing dental school. They are trained to diagnose and treat all endodontic problems including surgical endodontics and the management traumatic dental injuries. Endodontists are also experienced at helping to determine the cause of oral and facial pain that may have been difficult to diagnose.
Does every "toothache" require root canal treatment?
An endodontic evaluation will help determine the cause(s) of your toothache. There can be other causes of your toothache/symptoms that may not require root canal treatment to alleviate.
Why do I need a root canal treatment?
Most root canal treatments are recommended based on the following reasons:
- The presence of dental pulp (nerve) inflammation.
- The presence of dental pulp (nerve) infection that may also involve the surrounding tissues.
A persistent toothache/ sensitivity may be the first sign of potential endodontic problem. In many instances, endodontic problems can quietly develop without any past symptoms. Deep cavities, fillings, fractures and traumatic injuries are some of the common causes that may lead to the recommendation of endodontic treatment.
At times, your dentist may request root canal treatment prior to a planned crown or filling. Deep cavities, a questionable status of an old root canal treatment, or the need to use the inside of the tooth for the new restoration are common reasons.
Unfortunately, if endodontic problems are left untreated, your symptoms may worsen leading to increased discomfort and/or the potential spread of infection.
For more information please follow the link the American Association of Endodontists' website.
Root canal treatment vs. dental implant- what’s the best option for me?
In cases where the tooth nerve is inflamed or infected, root canal treatment followed by an appropriate restoration can eliminate pain and heal a diseased tooth that otherwise would be extracted. Our efforts are focused to help guide you in making the best choices in helping maintain your natural teeth. Please follow the links below for more information in helping decide the best option for you.
What is root canal treatment?
It is a procedure where an endodontist makes a small access (hole), removes the inflamed or infected tissue in the center of the tooth, then carefully cleanses and disinfects the inside. Next, a permanent root-filling material is placed into canals of the tooth to seal the root canal system. Lastly, a temporary filling will placed in the access (hole) to temporarily help prevent food, saliva, and bacteria to reenter the root canal until your tooth can be permanently fixed by your dentist.
What will I feel during treatment?
Our approach to making you comfortable is patience. Using advanced anesthetic techniques, profound anesthesia is objective in all cases. Before I start any procedure, we closely assess your anesthesia level and your comfort. We continue to monitor your comfort throughout your visit and proactively adjust to your needs. We find many patients become very relaxed, calm and even fall asleep on their own with our approach.
Why do I need my root canal treatment re-done?
Root canal treatment is a “biologically” based procedure. In other words, if bacteria or contaminates have “re-contaminated” the root canal, a persistent infection and/or toothache may develop or persist after having a root canal treatment in the past. “Re-doing” or “re-treating” a root-canal is recommended if persistent infection/bacterial contamination is suspected on a tooth that can be saved. Once the root-canal has been retreated, it is very important that your tooth is restored with a permanent restoration/crown as soon as possible to minimize the chance of recontamination of the new root canal. For more information please follow the link the American Association of Endodontist’s website.
Can a root canal fix a fracture in a tooth?
Fractures or cracks in teeth may cause biting discomfort, temperature sensitivity or may have minimal or no symptoms at all. The size of the fracture and its location are important factors in determining if a tooth can be preserved. Fractures can’t be repaired but for a better term are“managed” to lessen the chance of getting worse. An endodontic evaluation will help determine if a fracture is present and its likelihood it can be “managed”. Root canal treatment does not fix a fracture but can in most cases alleviate the symptoms related to the fracture. It is very important that a crown is placed over the tooth with a fracture to help protect it regardless if a root canal treatment was recommended or not. For more information please follow the link the American Association of Endodontists' website.
What is an apicoectomy and is that the best option for me?
During your endodontic evaluation your specific circumstances will help determine if an apicoectomy is the best choice for you.
In this surgical procedure, the endodontist gently moves the gum tissue near the tooth to gain access to the underlying bone and to remove any inflamed or infected tissue. A small filling may be placed in the root to seal the end of the root canal, and a few stitches are placed in the gums to help the gums heal properly. Over a period of months, the bone is expected to heal around the end of the root. For more information please follow the link the American Association of Endodontists’ website.
How long does root canal treatment take?
Procedure time is typically 1 hour or less. Factors including location, tooth type, procedure being performed and complexity can extend the time needed to complete the treatment. Rarely are multiple appointments required to complete treatment.
What should I expect after treatment?
There is no problem driving home after endodontic treatment.
*DO NOT DRIVE if you have taken relaxing medicine for your appointment. If you plan to have relaxing medicine prior to your appointment, you will be instructed to have an escort to drive you to the office and back home.
Eating and Drinking:
You can eat and drink normally. Don’t eat on the side of the treated tooth until it is permanently fixed by your dentist.
Post Treatment Discomfort:
As with any dental procedure, post treatment discomfort is possible. If you had a toothache before your root canal treatment, there’s a high likelihood toothache may still be present after treatment. This discomfort will resolve as the tooth heals and the inflammation decreases. You will receive detailed care instructions and instructions on how to take non-prescription pain medications to maximize your comfort.
When do I need to see my dentist after root canal treatment?
Once the root-canal procedure has been completed, it is very important that your tooth is restored with a permanent restoration as soon as possible or within 4 weeks to minimize the chance of recontamination of the new root canal.