Frequently Asked Questions
Your Office Visit
A typical visit to our office begins with completing the paperwork, which includes your medical history and consent forms. It is advisable to bring a list of all the medications (including over-the-counter medicines) that you regularly take or have taken within the past month. Once all forms are complete, an assistant will review and chart your chief complaint, and take necessary x-rays of your teeth.
Your endodontist will then assess your symptoms and perform diagnostic tests. After the tests are completed, a diagnosis will be given and the doctor will discuss your treatment options and their risks and benefits in order for you to understand the recommended treatment. Possible post-treatment decisions such as a crown on the treated tooth also may be addressed.
If you decide to proceed with the treatment, you will typically be given an appointment for a later date. Before treatment begins, you will receive local anesthesia to numb the area. If your treatment requires more than one visit, an intra-canal medication and a temporary filling will be placed in the tooth between appointments.
Once your treatment is complete, instruction sheets listing the most common post-operative instructions and symptoms will be made available, along with pertinent medication prescriptions. In some cases, follow-up visits or periodic recalls may be recommended.
How does endodontic treatment save the tooth?
Root canal or endodontic treatment—treatment done to the inside of the tooth—is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes, most commonly deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, faulty or decayed crown margins, or a crack or fracture in the tooth. In addition, trauma to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.
During root canal treatment, the inflamed or infected pulp is removed and the inside walls of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected, then filled and sealed with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. Afterwards, the tooth needs to be restored with a crown or filling for protection. After restoration, the tooth is expected to function like any other tooth.
Endodontic treatment helps you keep your natural teeth, maintain your smile and continue to eat the foods you love.
Are a root canal treatments painful?
Many endodontic procedures are performed to relieve the pain of toothaches caused by pulp inflammation or infection. Endodontists understand a great deal about pain management. With modern anesthetics and select techniques, the vast majority of patients remain comfortable throughout the procedure. For the first few days after treatment your tooth may feel sensitive, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. Over-the-counter medications, such as Advil® or Tylenol®, are usually enough to manage this sensitivity. In some cases prescription for pain medications may be necessary, and are available from your endodontist.
Your tooth may continue to feel slightly different from your other teeth for some time after your endodontic treatment is completed. Of course, if you experience pressure or pain that lasts longer than expected, please call your endodontist.
With proper care, teeth that have had root canal treatment can last a lifetime. Occasionally, a tooth that has been treated doesn't heal properly and can become painful or diseased several months or years after the treatment. If your tooth failed to heal or develops new problems, you may have a second chance to save your tooth. An additional procedure may be able to support healing and save your tooth. If you are experiencing dental pain or discomfort in a previously treated tooth, talk to us about endodontic retreatment or apical surgery.