Frequently Asked Questions

What is a root canal?2018-07-11T00:26:31-05:00

Inside your tooth is a system of canals that contain tissue (blood vessels and nerves).  In a normal tooth you use these tissues to detect hot and cold.  When there is trauma to these tissues (usually through decay or removal of decay and subsequent restorations), your body cannot always heal the tissue, and it will begin to deteriorate.  This deterioration can cause immediate pain or set up a situation that may cause pain and infection in the future.  Root canal therapy removes this damaged tissue, prepares, and seals the root canals so bacteria cannot get into the space.

What’s involved with root canal treatment?2018-07-11T00:27:15-05:00

First depending on your symptoms, your endodontist may run some simple tests to help determine a diagnosis.  If the diagnosis is that you need root canal treatment, you will either be treated at that time or appointed for treatment.  This is usually determined by your current symptoms (are you in pain!).  If treatment is needed it will involve local anesthesia (like what you would get to have a tooth filled), isolation of the problematic tooth with a rubber window (latex or non-latex dental dam), and may require one or two visits to complete depending on the anatomy of your tooth and severity of the problem.

Will I be in pain after my root canal?2018-07-11T00:29:02-05:00

This can vary greatly and is usually determined by the severity of the problem with which you present.  In most cases if post operative pain occurs, it is usually within the first 24-48 hours after treatment and will usually involve tenderness to pressure on the treated tooth (like a strong bruise).  If your tooth is going to be tender, it is usually most tender when it wakes up after anesthesia, so we recommend anti-inflammatories (Advil/ibuprofen, Aleve, aspirin, Motrin, Nuprin, etc.) to be taken beforethe anesthesia wears off.  If your endodontist feels it’s warranted, you may be given a prescription for pain that can be taken along with the anti-inflammatory if needed.  If you present with an infection, you may continue to have discomfort with your tooth until the prescribed antibiotics have a chance to affect the area, which usually takes about two days.  Having said all of that, understand that our purpose is to get you out of pain, and the vast majority of our patients feel muchbetter after treatment.

Will I need an antibiotic?2018-07-11T00:29:24-05:00

If your tooth needs a root canal, it may be due to an irreversible inflammation and will not need antibiotics, but if your tooth has an infection, you will probably be prescribed an antibiotic.  If you are placed on an antibiotic, it is important that you take it as prescribed and take the prescription to completion – even if you feel great.

How long will a root canal take to complete?2018-07-11T00:29:46-05:00

This can vary greatly depending on your tooth’s anatomy and condition, but usually the root canal therapy will be completed in one or two visits.  Each visit will usually last at least a minimum of 30 minutes to a maximum of 90 minutes depending on each individual case.

Will I need to be sedated?2018-07-11T00:30:07-05:00

No.  Root canal treatment should be about as stressful as having a filling, but it will probably take longer to do.  As to nitrous oxide (laughing gas), we recommend that you use nitrous if you use it having fillings done at your dentist’s office.  Nitrous oxide is an extra charge.

Will my crown need to be removed/replaced?2018-07-11T00:30:33-05:00

If your crown is in good condition (is not leaking, broken, or decayed beneath it), we will perform root canal therapy through the biting surface of the crown.  The access hole that is left after completion of treatment will be restored by your dentist.  If your crown is on temporarily, we will remove it prior to root canal treatment and replace it temporarily after completion of treatment.

How much will it cost to have a root canal?2018-07-11T00:30:56-05:00

This varies greatly depending on the tooth and procedure.  You can call us with specifics of your individual case as well as insurance information, and we should be able to give you an accurate estimate.

Do root canals fail?2018-07-11T00:31:17-05:00

We are performing root canals with the assumption that you will have them for life, and we have a very high rate of long term success (according to the literature, endodontists have a greater than 95% long term success rate), but there are root canals that fail.  Failures are usually due to either a fracture, recurrent decay, or difficulties with the tooth’s anatomy that do not allow a “seal” that prevents bacterial invasion of the space.  Sometimes the tooth can still be saved with a surgical procedure, and we will recommend this if it is the best option.  While saving your natural tooth is usually the best option, occasionally the only option will be to extract a tooth and replace it with either a bridge or implant.

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