FAQ

Endodontics, or root canal treatment, is necessary when the tooth pulp becomes infected or inflamed. The inflammation or infection can have several causes: deep decay, trauma, repeated dental procedures on a tooth, or a crack in the tooth. Sometimes a blow to the tooth will cause these changes but cannot be seen on the surface of the tooth. Some of the indications of damage to the pulp include pain, discoloration of the tooth, prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold, and swelling or tenderness in the gums near the tooth. Occasionally root canal treatment is necessary even when there are no symptoms.
You are under local anesthesia, so you should not feel any pain. However, there are instances when the infection from the tooth can be so overwhelming that the local anesthetic doesn’t work as well, which may necessitate additional injections.
For the first few days after the treatment, there may be some sensitivity to biting pressure, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. We typically recommend anti-inflammatory medications (for example – ibuprofen) for a few days after the treatment. You may also be given a prescription for antibiotics.
You should not chew or bite on any hard or crunchy foods until the tooth is restored by your general dentist. The unrestored tooth is susceptible to fracture. Normal brushing and flossing is recommended. Most endodontically treated teeth can be retained as long as other natural teeth.
Teeth are often uncomfortable after a root canal, and discomfort usually peaks about two days after treatment. It is common for the tooth to still be a little uncomfortable for a week or so. It is important that the tooth is getting better over time.
Your jaw may be sore and your lip may be numb, but you should be in good shape to continue your regular schedule. I don’t recommend leaving your appointment and going straight to an important lunch meeting. In terms of your schedule, it should be no different than getting a filling or a crown.
Unless there are contraindications (ask your physician) I usually recommend 600-800 mg of ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, or generic) about every 4 to 6 hours. If you cannot take ibuprofen, then take about 1000mg of Tylenol (acetaminophen). If you have been given a prescription, then you may take that instead of ibuprofen or the Tylenol.
More than half of the root canals done in this office are done in one visit. Many are done in two visits due to severe pain, swelling, persistent drainage or complex anatomy. A second or third visit does not mean you will need to pay more. It just means that we want to give you the best quality root canal regardless of the number of visits it will require.
Root canal treatment is a dental procedure performed to retain a tooth which is compromised or may otherwise require extraction. Although root canal therapy has a very high degree of success, 90 to 95%, it cannot be guaranteed. Occasionally a tooth which has had root canal therapy may require re-treatment, apical surgery, or even extraction.Inside the root of a tooth is the pulp. The pulp consist of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue which are responsible for the development of the root structure and clinical crown. When the pulp becomes symptomatic due to trauma, tooth decay, chipped tooth, cracks, or repeated dental procedures, it must be removed to help alleviate symptoms and heal the tooth.
If you experience any symptoms such as throbbing pain, acute cold sensitivity, or swelling around tooth or facial, your dentist will recommend root canal therapy to eliminate the problematic pulp. This therapy is done with local anesthesia and may be completed in one or two visits, depending on the condition of the pulp tissue. The pulp is accessed and removed using small endodontic files. The canal(s) are then thoroughly cleaned and sealed using gutta percha. Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) will be used if requested. If your tooth is diagnosed as unsalvageable or chances of success are not favorable for root canal therapy we will contact the referring dentist for other options. You will be able to drive home after treatment and continue your normal daily routine.
When root canal therapy has been completed, a record of your treatment (x-ray image) will be sent to your dentist. You should contact them as soon as possible for follow-up treatment. He or she will decide on what type of restoration will be required to protect your tooth. A certain amount of soreness after endodontic treatment should be expected, however, if the pain is too severe we are available to respond.
The cost of root canal therapy may vary depending on the condition of the tooth, whether or not it will require post and core with build-up, or an old root canal that must be retreated. Our office staff will gladly check on insurance coverage and explain any out-of-pocket expense that you may incur. In general root canal therapy is much less expensive than extraction and replacement with implants or other artificial appliances.
Generally a root canal is all that is needed to save a tooth, but occasionally this procedure is not enough to heal the apical portion of the tooth. Endodontic surgery may be required to locate root fractures or hidden canals which may be the cause of persistent pain or swelling. This is the most common procedure used to insure proper healing secondary to root canal therapy.
After local anesthesia, an incision is made in the gum tissue. The tissue is released from the bone to expose the infected area of the root. The damaged tissue is removed using curettage and a small portion of the root is removed. A root-end filling material is placed (retro fill) and the tissue is sutured. In most occasions artificial bone is placed in the bone cavity, created by the infection, to aid in establishing new bone regeneration.