Endodontic FAQ

If my tooth needs a root canal, what are the alternatives?

If you have a tooth with an endodontic problem, your options are:  ignore the problem, have a root canal or extract the tooth.  If you choose to do nothing at all, most likely you will eventually have pain and/or swelling, which usually occurs at the most inconvenient times and can drastically affect the normal functioning of your life.  Do not be fooled if your tooth does not hurt.  It is always better to deal with this sort of problem proactively if you have the opportunity.  

Why should i save my tooth?

No matter how appealing replacement options (e.g., fixed bridge, implant, removable partial denture) might seem, nothing can truly replace your natural tooth.  And if you extract your tooth and don’t replace it, not only will your normal function be compromised, but also adjacent and opposing teeth can shift, which often leads to more serious problems later.  Saving your natural tooth should always be your first choice, when possible.  Also, keep in mind that root canal therapy and a crown are generally less expensive than extracting and replacing a tooth.  By saving your tooth, an endodontist can help you keep your natural smile and maintain the integrity and function of your current dentition. 

I’m a little nervous.  Should I be?

Some patients have only seen their general dentist for their routine care and have developed a great deal of trust in that person.  It can be normal, for some people, to be a little anxious when they are referred to a specialist for for root canal.  Dr. Marshall is well known for his patient, careful manner with which he practices his craft.  See our Testimonials tab to see what other patients think of their experience with us and ask your dental office what sort of feedback they have received.

Can the success of my root canal be guaranteed?

As most any medical or dental procedure it is impossible to offer a guarantee.  However, take some comfort in realizing studies show that endodontic treatment is successful more than 90% of the time, if restored and maintained properly after treatment.  The success rate can be affected by issues such as canals which are badly calcified, roots that are cracked, fractured, or severely curved, periodontal disease and contamination by decay or saliva.

I’m worried about x-rays.  Should I be?

No. Radiographs are essential during your endodontics treatment in order to achieve the highest success rate possible.  We use an advanced non-film computerized system, called digital radiography.  As safe as conventional dental x-rays are, digital radiography is even safer, utilizing about 90% less radiation.   Not only can the digital images be attained very quickly and viewed on a large screen monitor, but they can be they can be optimized, archived, printed and sent to your dentist via e-mail.  For more information contact Kodak.

What new technologies do you use?

Along with digital radiography, we use operating microscopes, apex locators, ultrasonics, nickel-titanium instrumentation, fiber optics and advanced irrigation methods. 

Do you take infection control measures?

Again, there’s no need for concern. We adhere to the most rigorous standards of infection control advocated by OSHA, the Centers for Disease Control and the American Dental Association. In addition, we utilize autoclave sterilization, barrier techniques, disposable supplies and employ strict disinfection measures to eliminate any risk of infection.

How many appointments will my treatment take?

Many times endodontic treatment can be completed in one visit, but sometimes more appointments are necessary.  Please be aware if your tooth requires more than one visit, there are not additional fees. 

Will I be able to go back to work or can I work out?

Most of our patients decide to continue along with their daily routine after their appointment.  Keep in mind you will be numb for a while, so don’t eat right away (try to eat before your visit) and realize your speech could be impaired from the numbness along the side of your tongue.  As you are leaving ask us for recommendations. 

What happens after treatment?

When your root canal therapy has been completed you will be given instructions specific for your situation.  A report regarding your treatment will be sent to your restorative dentist. You should contact that office for a follow-up restoration within two to three weeks of completion at our office. Your restorative dentist will decide what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth. It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine treatment. If a problem does occur, however, please call us.  

What is the pulp?

 

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. Many people don’t realize it, but the center of the root is normally hollow and within this channel or “canal” resides the pulp.  The pulp is a collection of soft tissue, blood vessels and nerves and has the primary function of forming your tooth when you were a child. Sometimes the pulp can be injured by bacteria that are introduced into the pulp as a result of tooth decay, periodontal disease, tooth fracture or other problems.  When that happens, an endodontic specialist can remove the diseased pulp to save the tooth and prevent further infection and inflammation. After successful endodontic treatment, the tooth continues to function normally.