patients report that
they are comfortable
"Thank you for all the
wonderful care you
gave to me during my
visits, and an extra
special thanks to your
remarkable staff for
their always pleasant
~ Anne P.
making it possible to
save teeth that even
a few years ago
would have been
Once treated, most
continue to function
and provide years of
Keeping in mind that
every case is
from the next, a
generally takes 30
minutes to 1 hour.
completed in one
Frequently Asked Questions
Will I feel pain during or after root canal treatment?
Many endodontic procedures are performed to relieve the pain of toothaches caused by pulp inflammation or infection. With modern techniques and anesthetics, most patients report that they are comfortable during the procedure. For the first few days after treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. This discomfort can be relieved with over-the-counter or prescription medications. Follow the doctor’s instructions carefully. Your tooth may continue to feel slightly different from your other teeth for some time after your endodontic treatment is completed. However, if you have severe pain or pressure or pain that lasts more than a few days, call our office.
Will my tooth need any special care or additional treatment after the root canal is complete?
You should not chew or bite on the treated tooth until you have had it restored by your dentist. The un-restored tooth is susceptible to fracture, so you should see your dentist for a full restoration as soon as possible. Otherwise, you need only practice good oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and regular checkups and cleanings. Most endodontically treated teeth last as long as other natural teeth. In a few cases, a tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment fails to heal or the pain continues. Occasionally, the tooth may become painful or diseased months or even years after successful treatment. Often when this happens another endodontic procedure can save the tooth.
What causes an endodontically treated tooth to need additional treatment?
New trauma, deep decay, or a loose, cracked or broken filling can cause new infection in your tooth. In some cases, we may discover very narrow or curved canals that could not be treated during the initial procedure.
Can all teeth be treated endodontically?
Most teeth can be treated. Occasionally, a tooth can't be saved because the root canals are not accessible, the root is severely fractured, the tooth doesn't have adequate bone support, or the tooth cannot be restored. However, advances in endodontics are making it possible to save teeth that even a few years ago would have been lost. And, when endodontic treatment is not effective, endodontic surgery may be able to save the tooth.
What are the alternatives to endodontic treatment?
When the pulp of a tooth is damaged, the only alternative to endodontic treatment is extraction of the tooth. To restore chewing function and to prevent adjacent teeth from shifting, the extracted tooth must be replaced with an implant or a bridge. This requires surgery or dental procedures on adjacent healthy teeth and can be far more costly and time-consuming than endodontic treatment and restoration of the natural tooth.
My dentists told me I need a root canal, but I have no symptoms. Why?
Occasionally, root canal therapy is recommended for a tooth that may not be giving a patient any problems. There are a few different cases in which this is true. If your dentist has seen that your tooth has developed an abscess on an x-ray, he/she will recommend a root canal even if you have no symptoms. An abscess indicates that the pulp has been destroyed and that bone loss is occurring. Patients will have no symptoms in this situation because the nerves in the tooth are dead and the bone that is being dissolved is making room for the infection and very little pressure is exerted on the tooth.
Patients that have deep decay/cavity in a tooth may be candidates for needing a root canal if this decay reaches the pulp chamber. To remove this decay, your dentist will have to work in the pulp chamber. The bacteria associated with the decay, along with the restoration work needed, will expose and damage the pulp tissues. This damage requires endodontic treatment so future symptoms do not develop.
My dentist told me that I might have a cracked or fractured tooth. What should I know about this?
Cracked teeth show a variety of symptoms, including erratic pain when chewing, possibly with release of biting pressure, or pain when your tooth is exposed to temperature extremes. In many cases, the pain may come and go, and dentists may have difficulty locating which tooth is causing the discomfort. When the outer hard tissues of the tooth are cracked, chewing can cause movement of the pieces, and the pulp can become irritated. When biting pressure is released, the crack can close quickly, resulting in a momentary, sharp pain. Irritation of the dental pulp can be repeated many times by chewing. Eventually, the pulp will become damaged to the point that it can no longer heal itself. Extensive cracks can lead to infection of the pulp tissue, which can spread to the bone and gum tissue surrounding the tooth. Unlike a broken bone, the fracture in a cracked tooth will never heal. In spite of treatment, some cracks may continue to progress and separate, resulting in loss of the tooth. Placement of a crown on a cracked tooth provides maximum protection but does not guarantee success in all cases. The treatment you receive for your cracked tooth is important because it will relieve pain and reduce the likelihood that the crack will worsen. Once treated, most cracked teeth continue to function and provide years of comfortable chewing. We will discuss your particular diagnosis and treatment recommendations. There are many different types of cracked teeth. The treatment and outcome for your tooth depends on the type, location, and severity of the crack.
Will antibiotics take care of my tooth?
If the pulp is already inflamed/infected to the point that it cannot repair itself, antibiotics will not repair the situation. Once pulp damage has begun in the tooth, the blood vessel supply to the tooth also breaks down. This eliminates the body's route into the tooth. Therefore antibiotics can be carried by the body to the surrounding regions of the tooth, however they cannot be used to remove the infection inside the tooth. Often times, symptoms of pressure and biting/chewing sensitivity are calmed by the antibiotics as the inflammation/abscess around the tooth is reached. Once a patient finishes the antibiotics, the infection inside the pulp continues to exit and build around the roots again, causing symptoms to redevelop. The time period of symptoms redeveloping can be days or even months.
Do I need the pulp tissue that will be removed in root canal treatment?
The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue. During development of the tooth, these tissues create the surrounding hard tissues of the tooth. After growth and development, the tooth is fully mature and it can survive without the pulp, because the tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it.
How long will it take to perform root canal treatment on my tooth?
Keeping in mind that every case is slightly different from the next, root canal treatment generally takes 30 minutes to 1 hour. Almost all treatments are completed in one visit. Chronic cases, in which an abscess has developed, will typically be treated in two visits. During the first visit, a medication called calcium hydroxide will be placed in the cleaned pulped spaces and allowed to set for one week. This medication will help in calming the infection and will be removed at the second appointment when the root canal is completed. Occasionally, the pulp spaces will be difficult to find or clean out if the spaces have become calcified or if a restorative material is blocking the spaces. These cases may require additional visits.
Will I be able to drive and go back to work after my root canal treatment?
Yes. A local anesthetic is used for root canal treatment just like it is used for your general dental work, like fillings and crowns. When you leave the office, you will be numb for 1 to 3 hours. Going back to your daily activities should be of no concern. Please note that if you are having a surgical procedure done in our office you should speak to the doctor about post-operative instructions.
What if I need to talk to the doctor after working hours?
We understand that having endodontic treatment can be new or different for each patient. It is quite common and expected for each patient to have many questions and concerns. If you have questions that were not answered while in our office or if you need to discuss questionable symptoms with the doctor who treated you, you are welcome to call the office after hours. By calling our office telephone number, the answering service will take your information and contact the doctors, who will call you back shortly.