Getting to the Root of the Problem: FAQs About Root Canals

July 12, 2023

Our endodontists are forever fielding common questions about root canals, which inspired our team to compile and answer them in an easily shareable blog post. 

Whether you, a friend, or family member, have questions about what to expect from a root canal, the following answers from our team will have you covered. 

Commonly Asked Questions about Root Canals

We’ve all heard the expression “there are no silly questions,” and when it comes to getting a root canal, this is certainly the case. 

Part of our mission at Trident Endo is to educate patients on what to expect at one of our endodontic practices and to put you at ease and exceed your expectations.

The following represent the most common questions our team is routinely asked about root canals…  

What is a root canal treatment?

A root canal treatment, also known as endodontic therapy, is a dental procedure that was developed to diagnose and treat damaged tooth pulp. The procedure involves removing any infected pulp, followed by thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the root canal, and finally filling and sealing it to protect against further infection.

What happens during a root canal treatment?

Dr. Alexis Herring of Bay Endodontics explains how root canals are meant to be painless and demonstrates the procedure.

Why would I need a root canal treatment?

Root canal treatments are typically required for a number of reasons, including tooth pulp that is infected or inflamed because of serious decay, any chips or cracks in the tooth, injury or trauma, or repeated dental procedures. The procedure aims to save the tooth from extraction and alleviate pain caused by the infection.

How do I know if I need a root canal treatment?

Common signs that may indicate the need for a root canal treatment include sensitivity to temperatures, both hot and cold, a serious and persistent toothache, tender or swollen gums, a persistent pimple on the gum, and discoloration of the tooth. However, only a dental professional can accurately diagnose the need for a root canal treatment.

What is an endodontist?

An endodontist is a dental specialist who focuses on diagnosing and treating dental pulp and root canal-related issues. They receive additional training beyond dental school to become experts in performing root canal treatments and other endodontic procedures.

How long does a root canal treatment take?

The duration of a root canal treatment depends on the complexity of the case and the tooth that requires treatment. Typically, most root canal treatments are completed over the course of one or up to three appointments; each one lasting between one hour to 90 minutes.   

Is a root canal treatment painful?

The root canal treatment itself is performed under local anesthesia, which ensures that you should not feel any pain during the procedure. However, you may experience some discomfort or sensitivity in the treated area in the days following the treatment. This can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain medications.

Are there alternatives to root canal treatment?

In most cases, the only alternative to a root canal treatment is tooth extraction. However, it is always recommended to save the natural tooth whenever possible, as tooth extraction can lead to other complications and may require additional, more costly dental work, such as a dental implant or bridge.

How successful is a root canal treatment?

Root canal treatments have a high success rate, with over 90% of cases being successful. However, the success of the treatment depends on various factors, such as the severity of the infection, the tooth’s condition, and proper follow-up care, including restoration of the tooth with a dental crown or filling.

Do I still need a root canal if the pain has disappeared? What happens if I delay treatment?

When you’re prescribed endodontic therapy or a root canal, you need to follow through with treatment, regardless of whether or not the pain has dissipated. Unfortunately, dental pain can come and go, which is why your tooth should not be left untreated. Like any other problem, ignoring or putting off a solution will lead to more dental issues. 

Having a root canal treatment done at an endodontist’s office can be considered less risky for several reasons:

  • Specialized Training: Endodontists are dental specialists who undergo additional years of training beyond dental school to specifically focus on diagnosing and treating dental pulp and root canal-related issues. Their specialized training equips them with a deep understanding of complex root canal anatomy and advanced techniques for performing these procedures. They have a higher level of expertise in managing complicated cases and can handle challenging situations more effectively.
  • Advanced Technology: Endodontists typically have access to advanced technology and equipment specifically designed for root canal treatments. They may utilize microscopes, digital imaging, ultrasonic instruments, and other specialized tools to enhance precision and effectiveness during the procedure. This advanced technology can contribute to more accurate diagnosis, better treatment outcomes, and reduced risks associated with the procedure.
  • Experience and Volume: Endodontists primarily focus on performing root canal treatments and other endodontic procedures. Due to their specialized practice, they often have more experience and handle a higher volume of cases compared to general dentists. This experience allows them to develop expertise, fine-tune their skills, and stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in endodontic techniques. Their familiarity with a wide range of cases can result in improved treatment outcomes and reduced risks.
  • Complex Cases: Endodontists are better equipped to handle complex root canal cases. These may involve situations such as intricate root canal anatomy, retreatment of failed root canals, or addressing complications like curved or calcified canals. Their specialized training and experience enable them to navigate these complexities more effectively, minimizing the risk of complications and improving the chances of a successful outcome.
  • Collaboration with Dentists: Our Endodontists work closely with general dentists and other dental specialists as part of a collaborative dental team. This partnership allows for comprehensive treatment planning and coordination, ensuring that our patients receive the most appropriate and effective care. General dentists may refer patients to endodontists for specialized root canal treatments, further enhancing the quality and safety of the procedure.

It’s important to note that many general dentists also perform root canal treatments with excellent results. However, if your case is complex or requires specialized expertise, an endodontist may offer a higher level of confidence and assurance. 

Consulting with your dentist and an endodontist can help determine the most suitable treatment approach for your specific situation.

Contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our esteemed endodontists!

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