Frequently Asked Questions

What is a root canal?

Root canal therapy is a dental procedure in which the interior of a tooth is cleaned, disinfected, shaped and sealed with a permanent filling material. 

What is endodontics?

Endodontics is the field of dentistry concerned with the treatment of the inside of the tooth. Endodontic Therapy is commonly referred to as Root Canal Therapy.

What is an Endodontist?

An Endodontist is a certified specialist in root canal treatment. Endodontists spend an additional two or three years after graduating dental school undergoing specialized training in root canal therapy.

Why is a patient referred to an Endodontist?

Many patients are referred to Endodontists for root canal treatment due to their advanced training and overwhelming experience. Endodontic practices are limited to root canal therapy and are specially equipped to provide the patient with the best possible treatment. 

What types of treatments do Endodontists perform?

Endodontists perform all root canal treatments both routine and complicated. They perform endodontic retreatments, endodontic surgery, post and core restorations, and minor gingival surgery. Please see our Procedures Page for a more in-depth explanation of these services. 

Does a root canal remove the roots of the tooth?

No. A root canal treatment removes the tissue and any infectious material inside a tooth. Every tooth has a space inside that is filled with nerves and blood vessels. A root canal simply removes the material inside the tooth, disinfects the area and seals the inside of the tooth. The roots of a tooth remain in place and are the structures that actually hold the tooth in the jaw.

Does a root canal hurt?

No. With advances today in anesthesia and treatment, root canal therapy should be painless. 

How many visits does it take to complete a root canal?

The majority of root canals are completed in a single visit. However, there are cases that require multiple visits in order to disinfect the root canal space and complete the treatment. 

Why does a tooth need a root canal?

A tooth requires root canal treatment if it has become either inflamed or infected. 

How does a tooth become inflamed or infected?

There are multiple reasons why teeth can become inflamed or infected. The most common reason is decay that extends too far into the tooth. If a cavity is too deep, the bacteria in the cavity can produce damage to the pulp causing it to become inflamed. If the decay progresses far enough, bacteria can actually enter into the pulp and cause an infection. This is commonly called an abscess. In addition to cavities, cracks in teeth and trauma to teeth can cause inflammation and infection. 

If I am having a root canal, will I need an antibiotic?

The need for an antibiotic is dependent on each individual diagnosis. If a tooth is infected, or abscessed, then sometimes an antibiotic is useful. If a tooth is inflamed then an antibiotic will not be needed. 

How long does a root canal last?

Provided the patient takes proper care of the tooth following root canal treatment, including appropriate restorative work by their general dentist and good oral hygiene, a root canal should last a lifetime. 

Why do some teeth require retreatments of previous root canals?

Sometimes, the interior of a tooth that has had a root canal can get re-infected. This occurs most commonly when recurrent decay allows bacteria to re-contaminate the inside of the tooth. When this happens, the old root canal filling must be removed and the tooth disinfected and filled again. 

Should I just have my tooth extracted instead?

There is nothing better than a natural tooth. If there is enough tooth structure remaining for your dentist to restore it to proper function, then a root canal is the best treatment option. 

Can I go back to work or school after my root canal?

A root canal appointment is very similar in nature to a normal restorative procedure like a crown or a filling. While each patient will still be numb at the end of the procedure, there is no reason why they should not be able to resume their normal daily activities. 

Can a tooth that has had a root canal still feel pain?

YesThe only difference between a tooth that has had a root canal and one that has not is that the tooth that has had a root canal can no longer feel temperature. There are nerves covering the outside surface of all teeth that provide sensation, and help you determine the hardness of objects in your mouth and where things are located in your mouth. These nerves are not affected by root canal therapy. Endodontic treatment only removes the nerves and material from the inside of the tooth. These nerves sense temperature. Therefore, root canal-treated teeth can and do still feel pain. 

Can I fill out any paperwork prior to my appointment?

Yes. Our patient registration package is located on the Patient Downloads section on the bottom of our homepage. You can access it by clicking here