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, patients are usually very 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. By following the doctor’s instructions carefully, you will ensure best outcome and minimize discomfort.

Your tooth may continue to feel slightly different from your other teeth for some time after endodontic treatment is completed. However, in the rare case you might experience lingering pain or pressure, please call our office so we can help resolve the issue.



Will my tooth need any special care or additional treatment after root canal therapy is complete? 

Please avoid chewing food altogether until the local anesthetic (‘novocaine’) has worn off completely. You may drink hot and cold liquids. The un-restored tooth is susceptible to fracture, so you should not chew or bite on that side until you have had the tooth restored by your general dentist. Please make sure to see your dentist for a full restoration within 2-3 weeks.

You  should practice good oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing unless instructed otherwise by the doctor.

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 completely, and occasionally, the tooth may become painful or diseased months or even years after successful treatment. When this happens, another endodontic procedure may be able to save the tooth.


I'm worried about x-rays. Should I be?

No. While x-rays will be necessary during your endodontics 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 diskette. For more information contact Schick Technologies, Inc.


What About Infection?

Again, 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 and cross contamination.



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 root canal 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 infection on an x-ray, they will recommend root canal treatment even if you have no symptoms. An infection (sometimes referred to as ‘abscess’ or ‘cyst’) indicates that the pulp (the soft tissue inside your tooth) has been destroyed and that bone loss is occurring. Patients will often have no symptoms in this situation because the nerves inside the tooth are dead, the bone that is being dissolved around the tooth is making room for the infection to expand without pressure build-up.

Teeth with deep decay (cavity) which is close to or exposes the pulp chamber will also need endodontic treatment. 



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 pain when chewing, 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. Eventually, the pulp can become damaged and infected, necessitating endodontic treatment.

Unlike a broken bone, the fracture in a cracked tooth will never heal. Root canal treatment followed by placement of a crown on a cracked tooth provides maximum protection but does not guarantee success in all cases. If bruxism (grinding your teeth) or clenching is noted, we will often recommend getting a custom-made night guard to help protect your teeth from further damage.

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. 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.

Some cracks may continue to progress and separate, resulting in loss of the tooth. We will discuss your particular diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

Can antibiotics heal 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, the blood vessel supply to the tooth also breaks down. This eliminates the body's route into the tooth, and antibiotics cannot be carried by the body into the tooth.

However, antibiotics will often times be prescribed in order to help alleviate symptoms from an infected tooth.  If root canal treatment is not initiated, the infection inside the pulp continues and can spread 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, your root canal treatment appointment  will generally last about 1 hour. Mot cases can be treated in one visit, but 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 pulp spaces and allowed to remain in the canals for several weeks. This medication will help in eliminating the infection and will be removed at the second appointment , at which time your root canal treatment is completed.

Occasionally, the pulp spaces have become calcified or blocked by restorative material, the doctor will not be able to disinfect the tooth completely. These cases may require additional visits or different treatment modalities.


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.  When you leave the office, your mouth 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 , you may be instructed to avoid resuming normal activities until the next day. 



What if I need to talk to the doctor after working hours?           

If you have questions that were not answered while in our office or if you need to discuss any symptoms with the doctor who treated you, you are welcome to call the office any time, including after hours, by calling our office telephone number. Our answering service will take your information and contact the doctors, who will call you back shortly. 



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