Frequently Asked Questions
What is Endodontics?
Endodontics is a branch of dentistry recognized by the American Dental Association involving treatment of the pulp (root canal) and surrounding tissues of the tooth. When you look at your tooth in the mirror, what you see is the crown. The rest of the tooth, hidden beneath the gum line, is called the root. Though the outer portion of the root is a hard tissue called dentin, the inside channel or “root canal” contains a pulp which consists of soft tissue, blood vessels and nerves. Bacteria that are introduced into the pulp as a result of tooth decay, periodontal disease, tooth fracture or other problems, can severely damage the pulp. When that happens, an endodontic specialist removes the diseased pulp to save the tooth and prevent further infection and inflammation. After successful endodontic treatment, the tooth continues to perform normally.
What is a root canal?
A root canal is one of the most common dental procedures performed, well over 14 million every year. At the center of your tooth is pulp. If this pulp is damaged, a root canal is performed to remove the injured pulp and thoroughly clean and seal the root canal system, to save the natural tooth.
I’m worried about x-rays. Should I be?
No. While x-rays will be necessary during your endodontic treatment, we use an advanced non-film computerized system, called digital radiography, that produces radiation levels up to 90 percent lower than those of already low dose conventional dental x-ray machinery. These digital images can be optimized, archived, printed and sent via e-mail or CD-ROM.
What about infection?
There’s no need for concern. We adhere to the most rigorous standards of infection control advocated by OSHA, the Centers for Disease Control and the American Dental Association. We utilize autoclave sterilization and barrier techniques to eliminate any risk of infection.
What happens after treatment?
When your root canal therapy has been completed, a record of your treatment will be sent to your restorative dentist. You should contact your dentist’s office for follow-up restoration. The tooth should be restored within four to six weeks of completion of the root canal treatment. Your restorative dentist will decide what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth. It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine endodontic treatment or microsurgery. If a problem does occur, we are always available.
What new technologies are being used?
We use the latest technologies to insure you receive the best endodontic care possible, including surgical operating microscopes, digital x-rays, 3D Cone Beam CT imaging, Apex locators, sedation dentistry, electronic health records and secure email. These tools allow for accurate diagnostics, effective treatment and a comfortable experience.
I am anxious and fearful of dental work, how can I still have treatment?
We understand that dental procedures can cause additional anxiety and fear in some patients, which is why we offer sedation endodontics for a stress-free experience. Please click here for more information on how we can make your experience as comfortable as possible.
What is the cost?
Endodontic treatment, along with appropriate restoration, is a cost-effective way to treat teeth with damaged pulp and is usually much less expensive than extraction and placement of a denture, bridge or an implant. The cost associated with this procedure can vary depending on factors such as the severity of damage to the affected tooth and which tooth is affected. Most dental insurance plans cover endodontic treatment.
When do I need a root canal?
If you are experiencing tooth pain, extreme sensitivity, discoloration or a traumatic injury to a tooth, the pulp inside your tooth may be damaged, and you may need a root canal to save that tooth.
How many appointments?
Endodontic treatment is usually completed in 1-3 visits. Sometimes, treatment can be done the same day as the consultation. However, a complex medical history or treatment plan will require an in-depth evaluation and a subsequent appointment(s).
Will I be sedated?
We use local anesthesia to eliminate discomfort. However, we understand many people avoid endodontic treatment out of fear and anxiety. Also, a patient may have difficulty controlling their gag reflex, experience pain because of sensitive teeth, or do not respond well to numbing medications. That is why we also offer sedation endodontics for stress-free endodontic treatment. We offer two types of sedation endodontics at our offices: oral conscious sedation and nitrous oxide. Please contact us prior to your visit if you have any questions or are interested in having sedation during your procedure.
Is there pain/pain management?
Modern techniques and effective anesthesia make root canal treatment virtually painless. In fact, discomfort after the procedure is generally greater with a tooth extraction. Patients who have experienced root canal treatment are six times more likely to describe it as “painless” than patients who have not had a root canal. For pain management, if you can take ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen sodium (Aleve), it does help reduce inflammation when taken prior to treatment. We recommend 2 tablets of either medication 2-4 hours before endodontic therapy. Your tooth may feel tender after treatment, this tenderness is normal. Discomfort may be alleviated by taking ibuprofen (Advil), aspirin, or acetaminophen (Tylenol) as directed.
For more information, check out these informative links to professional dental associations: