Frequently Asked Questions

What can I expect at my appointment?

A typical visit begins with completing paperwork, which includes your medical history, list of medications, and consent forms. Once all forms are complete, an assistant will seat you and take a first set of x-rays of your teeth. Then, your endodontist will review your paperwork and the x-rays, and evaluate your symptoms prior to testing the tooth in question along with adjacent teeth. After the tests are complete, a diagnosis will be given to determine treatment options and prognosis. The endodontist will make you aware of the benefits, options and risks involved in the treatment to relieve your pain and save your tooth. Post- treatment decisions such as a crown on the treated tooth will also be addressed.

Will I have treatment on the day of my appointment?

If you decide to receive treatment, the procedure may start immediately. Before treatment begins, you will receive local anesthesia to numb any sensations you may feel during the procedure. If the procedure is unable to be completed within one visit, medicine may be placed inside the tooth between appointments. Once your procedure is complete, more X-rays are taken to track the success of the treatment. You will receive a copy of your post-operation instructions and what to expect over the next few days. Be sure to contact your endodontist if you have any questions or concerns regarding your treatment.

Is a root canal painful?

A common misconception is that root canal treatment is a painful experience when in actuality, it’s quite the opposite. Root canal treatment doesn’t cause pain, it relieves it.

Many endodontic procedures are performed to relieve the pain of toothaches caused by pulp inflammation or infection. With modern techniques and anesthetics, most patients report that they are 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. Follow your endodontist’s instructions carefully. Your tooth may continue to feel slightly different from your other teeth for some time after your endodontic treatment. However, if you have severe pain or pressure or pain that lasts more than a few days, call your endodontist.

How much does a root canal cost?

The cost varies depending on how severe the problem is and which tooth is affected. Cost is based on the number of canals, degree of difficulty and location of the tooth in the mouth. Root canal treatment may be covered by dental insurance depending on your coverage. If there is a copay, coinsurance, or other balance due, it will be disclosed before treatment begins. Any dental services performed without prior financial arrangements must be paid in full at time of treatment. For your convenience, we accept the following methods of payment: Cash, Credit Cards (Visa, MasterCard, Debit and American Express), and Care Credit (pending approval)

As a courtesy, we submit your insurance claim for you. We try our best to determine your insurance coverage and benefits so that we may give you an accurate estimate of your coverage. However, this estimate is not a guarantee of coverage by your insurance plan and you will be solely responsible for the total amount should your insurance not pay the expected portion.

Why is root canal treatment necessary?

Root canal or endodontic treatment is necessary when the inside, or pulp of a tooth becomes inflamed or infected. The pulp contains the nerves and blood vessels which keep the tooth alive. It is through the pulp that temperature and pain are perceived. The inflammation or infection can have many causes but usually are the result of deep decay or trauma.

How does endodontic treatment save my tooth?

A small opening on the chewing surface of your tooth is created to gain access to the inside of the tooth, the pulp. Very small instruments are used to remove dead and dying tissue and to clean the pulp from the inside, allowing the root canals to be cleaned and disinfected. The canals are specially “shaped” and prepared so that they can be sealed with biocompatible filling materials. They are coated with an adhesive cement to ensure that they are completely sealed to prevent future infection.

Are there any alternatives to a root canal?

Saving the natural tooth is usually the best option, so root canal treatment is generally the treatment of choice. The only alternative to having a root canal is extracting the tooth and having it replaced with an implant, bridge, or denture. These procedures are more expensive than a root canal and often require more time and additional procedures to treat the surrounding teeth and tissues. If a tooth is extracted and not replaced with some type of restoration, chewing function will be impaired and teeth may shift.

What can I expect following the procedure?

For the first few days after treatment, your tooth may feel tender or sensitive, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. Most discomfort can be relieved by over-the-counter (OTC) medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. If you have discomfort or pain that lasts more than a few days or if there are other increasing symptoms, call your endodontist immediately. Prescription medications including antibiotics may be indicated.

You should not chew or bite on the treated tooth until you have seen your dentist, particularly if part of the tooth has been lost to decay, a large filling or trauma. A crown or other restoration is usually needed to further protect and restore the tooth to full function and is extremely important in ensuring long-term success. Contact your dentist as soon as possible to arrange for any necessary treatment.

How long do root canals last?

If done properly and maintained well, root canals are quite successful. The most important thing to do to make a root canal last as long as possible is to get the permanent restoration on the tooth such as a crown, or as advised by your dentist, immediately following the root canal treatment and maintain that restoration with impeccable hygiene. A tooth that has had a root canal can still get a cavity, so a person must brush and floss the tooth thoroughly to keep it healthy. Your dentist will want to take routine X-rays from time to time to make sure the root canal has not gotten re-infected.