Frequently Asked Questions
What is a root canal?
Root canal therapy is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or infected. During a root canal procedure, the inflamed or infected pulp inside your tooth is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and sealed.
Do you remove the roots?
The roots of your tooth are not removed. The inside of the roots are cleaned and the rest of the root is left to support the tooth.
Will the treatment be painful?
Our doctors take every measure to ensure your procedure is not uncomfortable or painful. If treatment is needed, a small amount of anesthesia is used to gently numb a concentrated area of your mouth. Despite the common belief that root canals are painful, most patients report that the procedure is very similar to having a routine filling.
Should I be worried about x-rays?
No. While x-rays will be necessary during your root canal 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.
Is it normal for the tooth to still be uncomfortable a few weeks after treatment?
Teeth are often uncomfortable after a root canal, and discomfort usually peaks about two days after treatment. The discomfort afterward is generally inflammatory based and may take up to three weeks to improve. Over time, it is important that the tooth is getting better and your discomfort subsides.
Can I go back to work after my root canal?
You may experience a sore jaw and a numb lip or mouth, but you should be able to continue your normal routine and activities after your treatment session.
What pain medication is best after treatment?
Unless your physician indicates a contraindication, we recommend taking 600 mg of ibuprofen with one 325 mg Tylenol (acetaminophen) every 6 hours (4 times daily). Do not exceed the maximum daily dosage of 3200 mg for Ibuprofen and 3000 mg for Tylenol. If you have been given a prescription for either Vicodin or Percocet, then you may take that with the ibuprofen instead of the Tylenol.
Does a root canal take more than one visit?
The majority of root canals performed in our office are done in one visit. Depending on the complex anatomy of your tooth and severity of pain and swelling, a second visit may be needed to complete your treatment therapy. If a second visit is needed, you will not be charged additional fees. Our doctors are committed to giving you the best quality root canal treatment, regardless of the number of visits your treatment requires.
Will I need more dental work after my root canal?
Most back teeth require a crown if there is not already one in place. Root canal treatment is 5 times more likely to fail if a crown is not placed following treatment. Our doctors will use a temporary filling to seal your tooth, unless your dentist requests a permanent restoration. After your treatment is completed, we will refer you back to your general dentist who will assure the tooth has an adequate permanent restoration.
Will I need to return to your office for a follow-up visit after the procedure is completed?
No, most root canal treatments will not require a follow-up visit. In some cases, with significant infection with bone loss, a recall appointment is recommended and is usually done one year after the treatment has been completed. Our office will mail you a post card reminder when you are due for a recall appointment. There is no charge for this visit.
Can I chew on my tooth after a root canal?
We do not recommend chewing on the tooth until it has received a permanent restoration. The risk of tooth fracture is very high in root canal treated teeth that have not been permanently restored.
Will I need a new crown?
If you already have a crown, most of the time the root canal will be done through a small opening in the top. The opening in the crown will need to be restored with a permanent filling after your root canal is completed. A new crown may be indicated if there are imperfections that do not lead to predictable dental health. Crowns with porcelain (tooth colored crowns) are susceptible to fracture of the porcelain (happens less than 5% of the time). If the porcelain fractures in a way that the crown is no longer functional, then replacing the crown may be necessary.
I get very nervous when I have to go to the dentist. What do you offer to calm my anxiety?
Dental phobia is a real, often overwhelming reality for thousands of people. If you experience high levels of anxiety when visiting the dentist, you may be a candidate for prescribed oral medication, nitrous oxide gas or IV sedation. When you schedule your appointment, ask our team if sedation is the right choice for you. Our specialists will consult with you to determine which, if any, sedation method is needed.
Can you do all of my dental work?
Our doctors are specialists in root canal therapy and we limit our practice to endodontic treatments. Out of respect for your dentist, who referred you to us, we will return you to their care for your routine dental work.
Why do root canals cost so much?
Dentistry is a professional service that takes years of training to gain a mastery of the procedure. This, along with the high cost of dental supplies and the overhead associated with running a small business impact the cost of a root canal. If you have concerns that the cost of your treatment is not financially feasible, consult with our Billing and Insurance Coordinator who will familiarize you with some programs to help finance the cost of your dental care.
Why do you use a microscope?
Microscopes provide our doctors superior lighting and magnification while your tooth is being treated. This allows them to see tiny details inside your tooth, minimize the size of the surgical site during treatment, thoroughly clean your canals and reduce your discomfort and healing time. Our doctors consider this technology a necessity in providing our patients exceptional quality care. The use of the dental operating microscope helps in predicting the outcome of treatment.
Do you take out teeth?
Our doctors do not extract teeth. If a root canal is initiated and it is discovered that your tooth can not be saved by treatment, we will refer you back to your dentist or an oral surgeon for extraction.
Are implants better than root canals?
Maintaining your natural teeth is our top priority, but if we feel that root canal treatment is not predictable then a dental implant may be indicated. Implants are good alternatives when teeth cannot be saved with root canal therapy, and will be recommended if your doctor determines that they will be a better long-term investment in your oral health.
I was supposed to have my temporary replaced and my tooth restored 6 months ago and now my tooth hurts. Now what?
If you have not had your tooth permanently restored in a timely manner (10-14 days), the canal system may become re-infected with bacteria. In this case an endodontic re-treatment may be necessary to restore your tooth to health. In most cases you will need to pay for the cost of re-treatment, so getting the tooth restored early is a wise use of resources. The rate of fracture for an unrestored root canal treated tooth is very high. If the tooth has cracked then it may not be restorable, and you will lose what you have invested.
I can’t afford the crown after my root canal. What should I do?
If you are unable to afford the restorative phase of treatment at this time, please discuss this with your dentist to determine the best plan of action for your oral health. At a minimum, the tooth should get a permanent filling and receive a temporary crown or be removed from occlusion (shaved down so you can’t bite down on it).