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Common Questions

Why do I need a Root Canal?

Inside the tooth there is an area known as the pulp chamber, which contains the dental pulp (the nerves and blood supply to the tooth). This area can become damaged due to tooth trauma or significant dental decay, and the pulp can begin to die. Once the pulp becomes infected, the infection can travel down the root of the tooth and affect the bone around the tooth causing an abscess to form. The goal of endodontic therapy is to save the tooth by removing the infected or damaged pulp and filling the empty canals with an inert material called gutta-percha. A root canal is performed to alleviate certain symptoms associated with a dying pulp.

These include:
  • A tooth that hurts significantly when you bite down, touch or push on it
  • Infection/ abscess drainage
  • Sensitivity to heat
  • Sensitivity to cold that lasts longer than a couple of seconds
  • Swelling near the affected tooth
  • A discolored tooth with or without pain
  • Toothache

If root canal treatment is not completed, the tooth may need to be extracted.

As an Endodontic patient, what should I expect?

To begin, a comprehensive examination to diagnose orthofacial pain and pulpal injury will determine if the tooth is a good candidate for Endodontic therapy.  Non-surgical treatment to eliminate the diseased pulp may be performed. This injured pulp is removed and the root canal system is thoroughly cleaned, shaped and sealed.  Under certain circumstances, microsurgery may be indicated. We are experts in performing this procedure, and utilize sophisticated equipment to ensure the best result.

Most of all though, you should expect to be treated in a kind, caring manner. We will do our best to explain treatment options and help you in choosing the option that is best for you.

Will the treatment be painful?

Root Canal Treatment is a painless procedure but has a certain “reputation.” The pain most people associate with a root canal is caused by the symptoms: an abscess, cracked tooth, or infection. With the "cure" comes pain relief. With modern local anesthetics and injection techniques, most procedures are done with the patient free of pain. Depending on the problem that needs treatment, there may be some soreness afterwards as the tissues around the tooth heal.


Why not just pull the tooth?

Tooth extraction is permanent resulting in a space between the teeth. Tooth extraction can ultimately result in other dental problems such as:

  • Shifting or rotating of teeth   
  • Biting and chewing problems
  • Jaw pain
  • Problems replacing the tooth due to inadequate bone or space.
Often a patient will need to have additional treatment to fill the space such as bridgework, partials, or implants. In most cases these options are not as beneficial as keeping your natural teeth throughout your lifetime.

I'm worried about X-rays. Should I be?

No. While x-rays will be necessary during your Endodontics treatment, we use an advanced technology that reduces considerably the level of radiation associated with traditions x-rays. We use two kinds of radiographs: Digital X-rays and Cone Beam Computed Tomography, or CBCT. Both require low amounts of radiation exposure while providing high quality images.