Frequently Asked Questions
Symptoms indicating possible need for root canal treatment include: pain, prolonged sensitivity to cold or heat, tenderness to touch and chewing, a ‘pimple’ on the gum, discoloration of the tooth, swelling, drainage, and tenderness in the lymph nodes or gums. However, it is not uncommon to have no symptoms at all.
To provide you with a painless and comfortable experience, a small amount of anesthetic will be placed to gently numb a concentrated area of your mouth. A sheet of synthetic material called the “rubber dam” will be placed around the tooth to isolate it, thus keeping it clean and dry during treatment. The procedure consists of removing the inflamed or infected pulp, carefully cleaning and shaping the inside of the canals, and filling and sealing the tooth. Most treatments are completed in just a single visit. Occasionally, 2 or 3 appointments are necessary depending on the degree of infection/inflammation and treatment difficulty.
When your root canal therapy has been completed, a record of your treatment will be sent to your general dentist. You should contact his/her office for a follow-up restoration within a few weeks of completion at our office. Your general dentist will decide on 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, please do not hesitate to contact our office.
We will take every measure to ensure that your procedure is comfortable and painless. We will inject a small amount of anesthetic to gently numb a concentrated area of your mouth. For most patients, the feeling of numbness usually subsides after 2-3 hours. Your tooth may feel sensitive for two to seven days after treatment. Your body needs time to repair the damage that the original irritant caused. This is normally relieved with over-the-counter medications such as Advil. We will provide you with thorough instructions for managing any discomfort. Your tooth may continue to feel slightly different than 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, please do not hesitate to contact our office.
In most cases we will have a copy of a recent X-ray’s provided to us by your general dentist. Additional X-rays will most likely be required to properly make a diagnosis. This may include a 3-D scan if your case is especially complex. Please understand that X-rays are the primary means by which endodontists are able to properly evaluate our work. They are an integral part of both the examination and treatment. We will only take those radiographs that are absolutely necessary for proper care and documentation.
The cost of root canal treatment varies depending on which tooth is affected and the complexity of the treatment. Molars are more difficult to treat thus the fee is usually higher. Generally, endodontic treatment and restoration of the natural tooth are less expensive than the alternative: tooth extraction and replacement with a bridge or an implant to restore chewing function and prevent adjacent teeth from shifting. During your consultation we will thoroughly discuss the fees involved and will review your expected insurance coverage.
The majority of endodontically treated teeth last as long as other teeth. Occasionally, a tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment may not heal properly or the tooth may become painful or diseased months or years after successful treatment. When this occurs, the tooth can often be maintained with a second endodontic treatment or surgery.
Root canal treatment is a predictable procedure with a success rate of up to 95%. As with any medical or dental treatment, occasionally teeth do not respond to traditional root canal therapy. There are specific factors that can increase or decrease the success of root canal treatment. We will thoroughly discuss our long-term expectations for your tooth before any endodontic procedure in order to help you make an informed decision. If root canal treatment is unsuccessful, there are other options that we may recommend to help you maintain your teeth, including endodontic retreatment or surgery.
New trauma, deep decay, or a cracked or broken restoration can cause new infection in your tooth. Lack of proper disinfection or lack of infected tissue removal from the first root canal can also cause the need for an endodontic retreatment.
Root canal treatment has been performed regularly since the early 19th century. Over 25 million endodontic treatments are performed every year. Many published articles of scientific research have looked at the lasting health effects and found no long-term health risks associated with root canal treatment. The American Medical Association, American Dental Association and the National Institutes of Health all independently recognize root canal treatment as a safe and effective procedure.