FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Endodontists are dental specialists who have had two to three years of advanced training beyond dental school who diagnose and treat problems related to the soft tissue (called the pulp) inside of a tooth.
Endodontic treatment is necessary when the tissue inside the tooth, the pulp, becomes inflamed or infected. The most common reasons for inflammation or infection are deep cavities (caries), repeated dental procedures, cracks, or chips. Trauma can also cause inflammation and often shows up as discoloration of the tooth. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess. Root canals have a greater than 90% success rate and are the best option for maintaining your own teeth.
- Signs of pulp damage include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, swelling, gum tenderness, and/or discoloration of the tooth. Sometimes, however, there are no symptoms when a pulp degenerates, and it may only be detected by a dental examination and x-rays.
- Oral pain such as toothaches or cracked/fractured teeth can often be difficult to pinpoint. Because of the vast network of nerves in the mouth, the pain of a damaged or diseased tooth often is felt in another tooth and/or in the head, neck, or ear. An endodontist is a specialist in diagnosing and treating this type of pain.
The goal of a root canal is to relieve pain caused by inflammation or infection. Since patients are given anesthesia, a root canal isn’t more painful than a regular dental procedure, such as a filling or getting a wisdom tooth removed. However, a root canal is generally a bit sore or sensitive for a few days after the procedure especially if you came in with pain prior to the procedure. You can be certain that a root canal at our office will not be painful. If you feel any pain, we will stop the procedure immediately and give you more anesthetic.
Often the only other alternative is removal of the tooth. Once a tooth is extracted, it may be replaced with an implant, bridge or removable partial denture to restore chewing function and to prevent adjacent teeth from shifting. Because these options require extensive surgery or dental procedures on adjacent healthy teeth, they can be far more costly and time consuming than the endodontic procedure and restoration of the natural tooth. No matter how effective tooth replacements are, nothing is as good as your own natural tooth. You've probably already made an investment in saving your tooth. The payoff for choosing endodontic treatment could be a healthy, functioning natural tooth for many years to come.
If a diseased or damaged pulp tissue is not removed, the tooth and surrounding tissues may become inflamed and/or infected, eventually resulting in an abscess. Left untreated and in more severe cases it has the potential to cause facial swelling, which can lead to life threatening situations and ultimately the tooth will have to be removed.
Although the pulp is removed, your tooth can survive because it continues to be nourished by the surrounding tissue. With regular brushing and flossing, proper diet and periodic dental checkups, your tooth could last a lifetime. While there is no guarantee, the success rate of endodontic procedures is very high. Most teeth are salvageable; however, if we believe that your tooth has a poor prognosis, we will inform you of this at the time of the consultation. Occasionally an endodontically treated tooth may need an additional surgical procedure or have to be removed.
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 determine 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 don't hesitate to call our office.
No. Modern dental radiography is the safest form of radiology used in medicine today. Digital X-rays use less radiation than standard X-ray films.
Although you will most likely be numb for 2-4 hours following the procedure, most patients are able to return to school or work directly following a root canal. However, it is advised against eating until the numbness has completely subsided.
The treatment options will be determined after a thorough examination of the area.