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Frequently Asked Endodontic Questions

Why choose an endodontist?
Endodontists are dentists with additional years of advanced specialty training in diagnosis and root canal treatment. Because we limit our practice to endodontics, we treat these types of problems every day. Our special training and experience allow us to treat difficult cases, such as teeth with narrow or blocked canals, or unusual anatomy. We also use advanced technology, including digital radiographs and surgical microscopes, to help in these procedures. Endodontists also use advanced technology, like surgical microscopes, to help in these procedures.
What is a root canal?
“Endo” is the Greek word for “inside” and “odont” is Greek for “tooth.” Endodontic treatment treats the inside of the tooth. Inside the tooth, under the white enamel and a hard layer called the dentin, is a soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. When the pulp of the tooth becomes infected or inflamed, a root canal is performed to clean this area. Learn more about root canals.
What are the signs of needing a root canal?
Pain brought upon by changes in temperature is one of the most common complaints of someone needing a root canal. If cold water or ice cream causes prolonged pain and tenderness, endodontic therapy may be required. Other signs to look for include: tenderness to touch and chew, discoloration of the tooth, and swelling or drainage of the gums or surrounding tissue. In some cases, your tooth may not show any of these symptoms and may still require root canal therapy.
I've already had a root canal, why does it need to be redone?
As occasionally happens with any dental or medical procedure, a tooth may not heal as expected after initial treatment for a variety of reasons:

  • Narrow or curved canals were not treated during the initial procedure.
  • Complicated canal anatomy went undetected in the first procedure.
  • The placement of the crown or other restoration was delayed following the endodontic treatment.
  • The restoration did not prevent salivary contamination to the inside of the tooth.

In other cases, a new problem can jeopardize a tooth that was successfully treated. For example:

  • New decay can expose the root canal filling material to bacteria, causing a new infection in the tooth.
  • A loose, cracked or broken crown or filling can expose the tooth to new infection.
  • A tooth sustains a fracture.

 

Is root canal treatment painful?
Root canal treatment doesn’t cause pain, it relieves it. The perception of root canals being painful began decades ago but with the latest technologies and anesthetics, root canal treatment today is no more uncomfortable than having a filling placed. In fact, a recent survey showed that patients who have experienced root canal treatment are six times more likely to describe it as “painless” than patients who have not had root canal treatment. Most patients see their dentist or endodontist when they have a severe toothache. The toothache can be caused by damaged tissues in the tooth. Root canal treatment removes this damaged tissue from the tooth, thereby relieving the pain you feel.
Is tooth extraction (pulling the tooth) a good alternative to a root canal?
Saving your natural teeth, if possible, is the very best option. Nothing can completely replace your natural tooth. An artificial tooth can sometimes cause you to avoid certain foods. Keeping your own teeth is important so that you can continue to enjoy the wide variety of foods necessary to maintain the proper nutrient balance in your diet. Endodontic treatment, along with appropriate restoration, is a cost-effective way to treat teeth with damaged pulp and is usually less expensive than extraction and placement of a bridge or an implant. Endodontic treatment also has a very high success rate.
What insurance do you take and how much does each procedure cost?
Insurance coverage for dental services and procedures can be confusing at times. Please contact our office and our helpful staff will walk you through your options. We are always happy to work with you and your provider to get you the treatment you need.