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Frequently Asked Questions

About endodontics, technology, root canals and other endodontic procedures

What is endodontics?

Endodontics is a branch of dentistry recognized by the American Dental Association involving treatment of the pulp (root canal) and surrounding tissues of the tooth.

When you look at your tooth in the mirror, what you see is the crown. The rest of the tooth, the portion hidden beneath the gum line, is called the root. Though the outer portion of the root is a hard tissue called dentin, the inside channel or "root canal" contains a pulp of soft tissue, blood vessels and nerves.

Bacteria that are introduced into the pulp as a result of tooth decay, periodontal disease, tooth fracture or other problems, can severely damage the pulp. When that happens, an endodontic specialist removes the diseased pulp to save the tooth and prevent further infection and inflammation. After successful endodontic treatment, the tooth continues to perform normally.

What types of technologies are being used by our endodontists?

Our endodontists use a number of advanced technologies that enhance the practice of endodontics and care we provide our patients.

All of our offices use digital radiography, a technology that exposes patients to less radiation than conventional x-rays, makes it easier to share a patient's radiographic images with both the patient and referring dentist, improves communication about treatment procedures with patients and referring dentists, expedites appointments through faster image processing, and is environmentally friendly because it does not require toxic chemicals for image processing.

We also use operating microscope technology that provides optimal magnification and fiber optic illumination during endodontic treatment. This specialized technology aids the doctor in seeing tiny details inside your tooth. In addition, a tiny video camera on the operating microscope can record images of your tooth to further document the endondontist's findings.

Other technologies we use include state-of-the-art tooth canal irrigation devices and ubiquitous rotary instruments.

What is root canal therapy?

Root canal therapy is a non-surgical procedure that focuses on treating injured or diseased pulp of the tooth. Pulp, which is at the center of your tooth, is a collection of soft tissues, blood vessels and nerves. Infection of the pulp can be caused by trauma to the tooth, deep decay, cracks and chips, or repeated dental procedures.

Root canal therapy is a treatment that can save your natural teeth and prevent the need of dental implants or bridges.

What are symptoms that may necessitate root canal treatment?

If you experience any symptoms such as visible injury or swelling of the tooth, sensitivity to temperature or pain in the tooth and gums, your dentist may recommend non-surgical root canal treatment. Trauma to the teeth, such as fractured or cracked teeth may also require root canal therapy.

What happens in a root canal procedure?

In root canal therapy, the endodontist removes the injured or diseased pulp and then thoroughly cleans and seals the root canal system. This therapy usually involves local anesthesia and may be completed in one or more visits depending on the treatment required. Success for this type of treatment occurs in about 90% of cases.

If your tooth is not amenable to endodontic treatment or the chance of success is unfavorable, our endodontists will inform you at the time of consultation or when a complication becomes evident during or after treatment.

Will I be able to drive myself home after root canal treatment?

Our endodontists use a local anesthesia to eliminate discomfort. You will be able to drive home after your treatment, and you probably will be comfortable returning to your normal routine soon after treatment.

What happens after root canal treatment?

When your root canal therapy is complete, a record of your treatment will be sent to your restorative dentist. It is recommended that you contact your dentist's office for a follow-up restoration within a few weeks of completion of root canal treatment at our office.

Your restorative dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth. It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine endodontic treatment or microsurgery. If a problem does occur, however, an endondontic doctor is on call at all time to respond to your needs.

Why would I need endodontic surgery?

Generally, a root canal is all that is needed to save teeth with injured pulp from extraction. Occasionally, this non-surgical procedure will not be sufficient to heal the tooth and your endodontist will recommend surgery.

Endodontic surgery can be used to locate fractures or hidden canals that do not appear on digital radiographs but still manifest pain in the tooth. Damaged root surfaces or the surrounding bone may also be treated with this procedure. The most common surgery used to save damaged teeth is an apicoectomy or root-end resection.

What is an apicoectomy?

An apicoectomy involves making an incision in the gum tissue to expose the bone and surrounding inflamed tissue. The damaged tissue is removed along with the end of the root tip. A root-end filling is placed to prevent reinfection of the root and the gum is sutured. The bone naturally heals around the root over a period of months restoring full function.

How much does endodontic treatment / root canal therapy cost?

The cost associated with endodontic treatment varies depending on factors such as the severity of damage to the affected tooth and which tooth is affected. In general, endodontic treatment is much less expensive than tooth removal and replacement with an artificial tooth.

bulletContact one of our offices for an estimate.

bulletFinancial agreement and endodontic and root canal therapy fees (PDF)

bulletInsurance networks

Are infections a concern with endodontic treatment?

Our endodontic practice adheres to the most rigorous standards of infection control advocated by OSHA, the Centers for Disease Control and the American Dental Association. We utilize autoclave sterilization and barrier techniques to eliminate any risk of infection.