Root Canal FAQ
What is an endodontist?
An endodontist is a dentist who has received two years of advanced training in endodontic procedures and has limited their practice to performing only endodontic procedures. Dentists will regularly refer patients needing endodontic procedures to an endodontist because of their experience in dealing with both routine and difficult endodontic procedures. Endodontists are also experts in diagnosing the cause of oral and facial pain.
Will I feel pain during or after the procedure?
Most patients report that they are comfortable during endodontic treatment. After treatment the tooth may be sensitive and you may experience slight discomfort. However, we will give you post-op instructions regarding your root canal and which medications will relieve this pain. If you experience severe pain or pain that lasts longer than a few days contact our office.
Will my tooth need special care afterwards?
After the procedure you need to avoid chewing or biting with the treated tooth until you have seen your dentist to have a crown or other restoration placed on the tooth. Until this is done the unrestored tooth will be susceptible to fracture. Once the tooth has been restored you need only practice proper oral hygiene and the tooth should last as long as any natural tooth.
How many appointments do I need for my Root Canal?
Often times, endodontic treatment may require two appointments. This, however, can not be determined until after the procedure is started. If a second appointment is needed, we will then schedule one for you. Please be advised that the cost quoted for your root canal is the same regardless of the number of appointments necessary.
Are there alternatives to endodontic treatment?
For some patients considering retreatment, endodontic surgery is also an option. This surgery involves making an incision near the end of the root to allow the tip of the root to be sealed. Endodontic surgery may be recommended in conjunction with retreatment or as an alternative. Your endodontist will discuss your options and recommend appropriate treatment.
The only other alternative is extraction of the tooth. The extracted tooth must then be replaced with an implant, bridge, or removable partial denture to restore chewing function and to prevent adjacent teeth from shifting. Because these alternatives require surgery or dental procedures on adjacent healthy teeth, they can be far more costly and time consuming than retreatment and restoration of the natural tooth.
No matter how effective modern tooth replacements are - and they can be very effective - nothing is as good as a natural tooth. You've already made an investment in saving your tooth. The pay-off for choosing endodontic surgery could be a healthy, functioning natural tooth for many years to come.
Can I drive myself home?
After most endodontic treatment, you should expect to be able to drive yourself home. If previous arrangements have been made for sedation, then assistance for transportation is necessary.
When can I return to my normal activities?
Each case is different, but many patients return to work the same day. Your endodontist will be happy to discuss your expected recovery time with you.
How much does a retreatment procedure cost?
The cost varies depending on how complicated the procedure will be. The procedure will probably be more complex than your first root canal treatment, because your restoration and filling material may need to be removed to accomplish the new procedure. In addition, your endodontist may need to spend extra time searching for unusual canal anatomy. Therefore, you can generally expect retreatment to cost more than the initial endodontic treatment.
While dental insurance may cover part or all of the cost for retreatment, some policies limit coverage to a single procedure on a tooth in a given period of time. Check with your employer or insurance company prior to treatment to be sure of your coverage.
Does insurance cover endodontic surgery?
Each insurance plan is different. Check with your employer or insurance company prior to treatment.
Myths About Root Canals
There are many misconceptions surrounding root canal (endodontic) treatment. As always, when considering any medical procedure, you should get as much information as you can about all of your options. Your dentist or endodontist can answer many of your questions, and if you still have concerns, it is often wise to seek a second opinion.
Myth #1 - Root canal treatment is painful
Truth: Root canal treatment doesn't cause pain, it relieves it.
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.
The perception of root canals being painful began decades ago when root canal treatment was painful. 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.
Myth #2 - A good alternative to root canal treatment is extraction (pulling the tooth)
Truth: 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. Most root canal treated teeth last a lifetime.
Millions of healthy endodontically treated teeth serve patients all over the world, years and years after treatment. Those healthy teeth are helping patients chew efficiently, maintain the natural appearance of their smiles and enhance their enjoyment of life. Through endodontic treatment, endodontists and dentists worldwide enable patients to keep their natural teeth for a lifetime.